Registered nurses looking for jobs are seeing increased demand for advanced degrees and more career opportunities outside of hospitals, according to a nursing supply-and-demand study conducted by the Greater Cincinnati Health Council.
The biannual study shows RNs have been acquiring more education over the last few years. The number of nurses with bachelor's degrees jumped to 41 percent in 2010, up from 33 percent in 2008, and 12 percent have master's degrees, compared with just 3 percent two years ago.
"Hospitals in our region are beginning to demand more specific degree requirements in order to adapt to changing healthcare trends and meet changing patient care needs," Mary Duffey, executive director of the Council's Health Care Workforce Center, said in a statement.
In 2010, the vacancy rate for nursing jobs at hospitals fell to 2.5 percent from 7.3 percent two years prior, according to the Health Council. That tight job market gave experienced nurses a hiring edge over new graduates.
"Jobs are harder to get right now," Denise Gormley, director of the master's program in nursing at the University of Cincinnati, told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "More and more nurses are going back to graduate school, partly because of the job market and partly because nursing is finally realizing that the more educated a nurse is, the better patient outcomes."
Two years ago, nearly all nursing graduates who stayed in Cincinnati were hired into a hospital. That number dropped to 80 percent in 2010 and is expected to fall further as reform continues to drive preventive care services into the community environment, notes the Health Council.
The study looked at data from 13 Cincinnati-area hospitals and 10 nursing schools.