Recession cuts down nurse shortage

With the recession putting pressure on workers to re-enter the field, the nursing shortage is easing up, according to a new study appearing in Health Affairs

The study found that almost a quarter-million nurses entered the work force between 2007 and 2008, an 18 percent climb. That's the largest two-year increase in nurse employment in 30 years or so, researchers concluded. That's happened despite the fact that the overall U.S. economy has lost six million jobs. This is a big change from the period between 1998 and 2001, when hospitals' nurse-vacancy rates peaked at a stunning 13 percent.

So what's driving the flood of nurses back into the field? Many returnees are older nurses, going back to work to re-gain a spouse's lost income or health coverage. (More than half the large increase over the previous two years came from nurses over age 50.) Meanwhile, last year there were one-third more working nurses ages 21-34 with children under 6 years old in the field than in 2007.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this Wall Street Journal piece

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