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New Nurses Find Jobs Scarce in Poor Economy

   November 30, 2010

Mass hospital layoffs hit the news in October, and the news probably came as no surprise to recent RNs who are scouring the want ads.

Recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show the number of job cuts in 2010 is keeping pace to tie or even beat the record 152 mass layoffs in 2009. Mass layoffs are designated as those that cut 50 or more employees.

These statistics come as new graduate nurses are reporting ever-tougher times finding work, contrary to every expectation they held when they entered school. For years, healthcare touted nursing as a recession-proof job. The nursing shortage meant many new grads could pick and choose. Hospitals spent time and money wooing students while still in school, hoping to ensure those nurse would eventually choose their organization.

The recession, however, has granted us a temporary reprieve of the nursing shortage. Across the country, hospitals are cutting back, nurses are adding more shifts or delaying retiring, and the vacancies that once gave HR recruiters grey hairs are a thing of the past (at least for now).

This translates to new grads finding much more competition for open positions, if they even have any open positions in their area at all. The situation affects the entire country, but is particularly acute in California and the north east.

Rebecca Hendren is a senior managing editor at HCPro, Inc. in Danvers, MA. She edits and manages The Leaders' Lounge blog for nurse managers. Email her at

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