New nursing grads face tougher job market during recession

In the short term, the recession has put pressure on nurses to stay put and delay retirement, making it hard for newly graduated nurses to find jobs, according to USA Today. Those lucky enough to find work can't get the better paid hospital jobs they had in their sights. Instead they end in nursing homes, home healthcare, or other settings, Carylin Holsey, president of the National Student Nurses' Association.

An advisory bulletin posted on the National Student Nurses' Association's website notes that "the economic recession has flooded the RN market with experienced nurses who were retired, planning to retire, or went from part-time to full-time employment." Lower demand is part of the equation. The need for RNs has fallen due to lower numbers of elective surgeries/procedures and the high rate of those without health insurance.

Employers are hiring new grads with four-year degrees, but new grads with associate degrees and high-school diplomas are finding it hard to locate entry-level employment. Many open RN slots require at least two years of experience.

The advisory also notes that once the economy improves and unemployment decreases, the shortage of RNs will become critical. "Unless we are very proactive...this could be catastrophic for the nation's healthcare system," Beverly Malone, CEO of the National League for Nursing, a nursing educators' group, told USA Today.

Large nursing shortages are still projected as Baby Boomers need more care and millions more Americans become insured in 2014 under the nation's new health law. Before the law passed, a Vanderbilt University analysis predicted that the U.S. would be short 260,000 nurses by 2025.

The looming nursing shortage could "interrupt" the healthcare system and potentially even render it inoperable, said Peter Buerhaus, the study's author and director of Vanderbilt's Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies. It's critical for policy leaders to find a way to keep new nursing graduates in the profession through the recession, he said, so projected shortages down the road aren't even worse than expected.

To learn more:
- read the USA Today article
- read the advisory bulletin the National Student Nurses' Association posted
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