Is nurse actually the most in-demand job?

Nurses have continuously been ranked one of the most “in-demand’’ jobs in the United States. iSTOCK

“If you’re a nurse and looking for a job, it’s pretty easy to get a new gig,’’ according to Fortune., which conducted a study to call nursing the most “in-demand’’ job of 2015, is on the same page.

It’s a little more complicated than that, though — at least in Massachusetts.

Boston is teeming with hopeful nurses, according to Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs at Boston College Connell School of Nursing Sean P. Clarke. Not every region of the country faces the same potential shortage of nursing students.

“We take probably in the range of a third to a quarter [of the applications] depending on the year,’’ Clarke said. “We do see a lot of interest in college kids studying in other fields coming into nursing.’’


It’s not necessarily “easy to get a gig’’ as a nurse everywhere. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported that for 2013, job rates for new baccalaureate program graduates varied by region: “the job offer rate for schools in the South is 68% followed by 59% in the Midwest, 50% in the North Atlantic, and 47% in the West.’’

“Labor markets are very regional,’’ Clarke said. “Like the Boston area, we have lots and lots of nurses and experienced nurses who want to work right now.’’

He said Boston College nursing graduates are finding jobs, but some have to look outside big cities on the coasts. A move to the suburbs or to another part of the country might be necessary.

“Nurses with a baccalaureate degrees have an easier chance,’’ Judith Shindul-Rothschild, an associate professor at the Connell School of Nursing, said. “Nurses in the south and central [United States] have the easiest chance and nurses who have Associates or are looking in the west and northeast [United States] will have the most difficult time.’’

Shindul-Rothschild also said that currently, it is not that easy to find a job in the city of Boston because the shortage predicted by the AACN is dependent on an older generation of nurses retiring, which hasn’t happened yet.


“The average age has increased to 55-60 and the numbers of nurses retiring has slowed,’’ Shindul-Rothschild said. Once this group of nurses retires, a significant number of jobs will open up.

Nurses in Massachusetts are also in a unique position because they live in a state that pioneered universal healthcare in the U.S.

“While on the surface one might think as more people have access there should be more job opportunities, my research showed that hospitals are restrained financially,’’ Shindul-Rothschild said. More patients means hospitals spend more money on treatment resources, and have less funding available to hire nurses.

Debra Burke, Associate Chief Nurse for Mass. General Hospital said, “We have certainly seen a greater patient volume because they have mandatory insurance. The uninsured rate is very low, clearly I think we’ve seen more of a need for nurses.’’

But a 2014 bill has been passed which may combat this restraint, by limiting the number of patients nurses could tend to in hospital critical care units.

Burke said the bill has been passed, but not yet implemented, as the regulations have not been finalized.

Burke said that at a hospital like MGH, they already abide by this new staffing law, and have enough nurses, but it might not be the case for everyone.


“I do think there are places in community hospitals that might not staff to this level,’’ Burke said. “I think those places there will be a higher demand.’’

Because more nurses are then needed, general employment prospects have improved, especially for new nurses.

First of all, registered nurses are not new to the list of most in-demand professionals. The job also topped Randstad’s list last year as the number one hot job with a positive outlook and the 2013 U.S. News list of jobs with the highest hiring demand.

It doesn’t look like nurses will be dropping down the list anytime soon. In fact, the AACN even predicts a nursing shortage. The AACN said:

“The U.S. is projected to experience a shortage of Registered Nurses (RNs) that is expected to intensify as Baby Boomers age and the need for health care grows. Compounding the problem is the fact that nursing schools across the country are struggling to expand capacity to meet the rising demand for care given the national move toward healthcare reform.’’

According to the AACN, the number of people enrolling in nursing schools is not enough to meet the growing demand for nurse services. AACN reported, “the RN workforce is expected to grow from 2.71 million in 2012 to 3.24 million in 2022, an increase of 526,800 or 19%.’’

The AACN’s website contains some ways in which nursing programs are attempting to increase their number of students. Some of the methods have included, grants, expanding student capacity, partnerships to help with funding, and getting more faculty members.


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