Nurses Having Difficulty Finding Work In Some Areas

By Staff
September 1, 2009

Despite widespread reports of a nationwide nursing shortage, many nurses are struggling to find work during the recession. Yet health experts say that the lack of nursing jobs is expected to be temporary.

"There's been a lot of publicity about nursing as a good career choice," said Sandra Angell, associate dean for student affairs at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, who was quoted in Kaiser Health News. "Up until January, until the entire economy went sour, jobs were very plentiful in nursing."

Currently, new nurses are finding it more difficult to land jobs, particularly in large metropolitan areas such as New York and California. Finding nursing jobs in rural areas is somewhat easier.

"This has been a very sudden shift," said Kathy Moore, director of admissions and student services at the University of North Carolina's nursing school.

Experts blame the recession on the job slowdown, pointing out that nurses who were expected to retire chose instead to remain working after their nest eggs disappeared. Additionally, funding has been cut at hospitals, forcing jobs to be trimmed.

According to a July study published in the policy journal Health Affairs, the number of unemployed nurses will continue to rise into 2010. As the pool of available nurses increases, salaries will remain flat.

"[Students] have to be more proactive and cast a wider net," said Angell. "They are finding positions, but it's taking a little longer for some of them and there are parts of the country that are tight for employment."

Nevertheless, career experts expect that demand for nurses will return. "We don't want to be lulled into a false sense of security," said Ann Stoltz, head of the nursing division at California State University in Sacramento, who was quoted in the Miami Herald. "The shortage is still there."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics likewise noted that the nursing profession is expected to grow into 2016, although there could still be small rises and declines in employment from year to year. According to Alice Ramey, a BLS analyst quoted by Kaiser Health News, the agency only produces long-term projections, which point to an upward trend.

But that matters little to new nurses who cannot find jobs now. "I have a life to get on with. I need to find a job," said Holly Proctor, who graduated from the University of North Carolina in July and has not found work. "Short of begging, I'm not sure what to do."

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