Washington best state for nurses; Louisiana the worst

For the second year in a row, a state in the Pacific Northwest ranks as the best in the country for nurses, while a state in the South ranks as the worst, according to new research from the finance site WalletHub.

The release of this year's rankings coincides with National Nurses Week, which runs from May 6-12 and celebrates "the role nurses play in delivering the highest level of quality care to their patients," according to the American Nurses Association.

Washington moved up one place to claim the No. 1 ranking this year, followed by Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Texas to round out the top five. Oregon, which ranked first last year, slid considerably to No. 15. Meanwhile, Louisiana supplanted last year's worst state for nurses, Mississippi, which rose slightly to place 46th overall.

The rankings are based on 15 metrics--such as number of nursing job openings per capita, highest and lowest salaries, and highest projected percentage of the population ages 65 and older--culled from data from entities such as the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration.

The metrics are then organized into two main categories: work environment, and competition and opportunity, on which WalletHub also ranks the states individually. Georgia, for example, netted the highest work environment ranking, and New Jersey received the highest competition and opportunity ranking.

As was the case in its report last year, WalletHub also asked various industry experts about the overall state of the nursing industry. Marilyn Frenn, a professor at Marquette University's College of Nursing, echoed recent reports that emphasize the increasing importance of Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs. "I have met a number of nurses prepared with associate degrees who are back in school right away in order to get a position," she said. And Christine Kovner, a professor at New York University's College of Nursing, indicated that governments and health systems have a responsibility to improve nurses' working environment, particularly when it comes to workplace injuries and verbal abuse.

To learn more:
- check out the research