Recession softens demand for nurses

The demand for nurses in the United States is currently weak and is exacerbated by the slow economy, reported the Dayton Daily News and the Merced (Calif.) Sun-Star.

In Dayton, Good Samaritan Hospital has routinely notified nurses not to report to work just before their shifts were scheduled to begin. According to the Ohio Hospital Association, the statewide vacancy rate for nursing positions was 4 percent in 2010, compared to 6.2 percent in 2009. In years prior to that, vacancy rates were routinely in the double digits.

In California--one of the few states that mandates a nurse-to-patient ratio in virtually every part of the hospital--the state's Institute for Nursing and Health Care gave the state's nursing job market a "D," suggesting slow demand for nurses. Statewide, there are about 240,000 nursing jobs.

However, the recession and the continuing slow economy is largely to blame for the relative lack of nursing positions. Many experienced nurses who had planned to retire are remaining on the job longer, taking away vacant positions that might have been offered to recent graduates.

The situation is expected to change considerably as the economy continues to improve. "This is going to be short-lived," said Deborah Mals, chief nursing officer at Miami Valley Hospital in the Dayton area.

For more information:
- read the Dayton Daily News article
- read the Merced Sun-Star article
- check out the California Nursing report card