Recent nursing grads face tough employment options

Sarah Black

Nursing has had a recent boom in applicants, but job availability is having a hard time keeping up.

Registered nurses are predicted to gain 581,500 more jobs within the next eight years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2,619 new nurses were hired in the year of 2008, so the projected change in percentage turns out more than 22 percent hire increase.

However, despite the shortages in nursing staff, nurses are not expected to find jobs easily. As much as 40 percent of new nurses won’t find jobs after they graduate, according to the California Institute for Nursing and Health Care (CINHC).

Due to the recent hard economic state most positions are being filled by older and experienced nurses.

“The average age of an RN in California is over 47, so as they approach retirement, the statewide shortage will worsen,” according to a press release from CINHC in 2008. “CINHC projects California will have a shortfall of 108,000 nurses by 2020.”

The current unemployment rate is 8.9 percent, or about 13.7 million people, which is 0.9 percent less than it was last November in 2010.

According to the February 2011 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job increases are found in business and construction.

And while the number of people receiving employment has risen by 1.3 million people, about 106,000 hired per month, registered nurses are not expected to find jobs immediately.

In order to avoid a nursing shortage, California needs to graduate 10,000 students a year, and as recently as 2004, California ranked last in terms of preparation for the shortage.

In 2008, only 3,000 nurses were graduated, according to Rosanne Curtis, dean of the Nursing Department at Mount St. Mary’s College.

“The last time nursing school enrollment contracted in response to new grad hiring trends, it took 10 years to recover,” said Deloras Jones, executive director of CINHC. “Not until 2004 did California graduate the same number of nurses that graduated in 1994.”

But nursing troubles can go even deeper than finding a job, it’s getting the education that can be difficult.

Allison Lambaugh, 22, nursing, has been trying to get her nursing degree for about three years now. There are so many people that are going into nursing, she said, that it’s become a big problem for completing her degree.

“It’s not just college students,” Lambaugh said. “A lot of people are going back to school. We have to compete with them.”

And the older students get in first, she said. “It’s because they have more history,” Lambaugh said. “They already have experience in the hospital.”

Furthermore, budget cuts in schools have lead aspiring nurses to rush for grabbing the right pre-requisites for their major.

Other budget cuts deny entry to students who don’t meet the exact criteria for nursing schools. After applying to San Marcos and Cal State Long Beach, Lambaugh’s application was denied because her pre-requisites were in progress and not fully completed.

But on the plus side, Lambaugh is optimistic about finding a job after the chaos in getting her degree is through.

“One lady I know got her degree, and within two days she had a full-time job,” Lambaugh said.

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