As market worsens for hospital jobs, nurses look elsewhere

In a job market with fewer jobs for nurses in hospitals, more nurses are instead working in rehabilitation centers, patient homes and outpatient clinics, the Indianapolis Star reports.

Although these jobs typically pay less than $65,950--the annual median wages of American registered nurses--healthcare experts say that's where the growth is, according to the article.

For decades, nursing was seen as a safe bet for steady pay with plentiful openings, often seen as immune to economic downturns, the article states, but falling revenues and patient volumes have left hospitals with no option but to consolidate, cut healthcare jobs and close programs.

"I've heard stories about new grads sending out 60, 100 resumes and not getting any response at all," Peter McMenamin, an economist and senior policy fellow at the American Nursing Association in Washington, D.C., told the Star.

The healthcare sector has been in third place for layoffs so far this year (after finance and industrial companies), with more than 41,000 layoffs. For example, Indiana University Health, Indiana's biggest hospital system, slashed 900 jobs--about 2 percent of its workforce--in the fall, the article states, while St. Vincent Health in Indianapolis cut 800 jobs, or 5 percent of its workforce.

Although only about 25 percent of the jobs cut are nurses, the healthcare sector downturn is affecting everyone and making it more difficult for nurses to find hospital jobs, and for students to break into the field, hence the increase in jobs in other settings, Kim Harper, executive director of the Indiana Center for Nursing, told the Star.

"Times are changing and the venues are changing," Harper said.

Meanwhile, a faculty shortage in the California State University system is exacerbating the state's nursing shortage; California State University, Chico, turned away 86 percent of qualified nursing applicants and CSU San Marcos rejected nearly 90 percent, the Long Beach Press Telegram reports.

"The issue is that you can't expand until you have more faculty, and you can't have more faculty until you have the money to pay them," said Margaret Brady, professor in the School of Nursing at CSU Long Beach.

To learn more:
- read the Star article
- read the Press Telegram article