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Home Blog Home   Nursing remains a recession-resilient career

Nursing remains a recession-resilient career

  Vanderbilt University study shows nursing demand remains high

Wednesday, July 08, 2009 at 4:24:00 PM

A recent Vanderbilt University study showed that nursing demand remains high, even in this difficult recession...

The study was performed by Dr. Peter Buerhaus, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies in the Vanderbilt Institute for Medicine and Public Health.

Buerhaus and his team collected registered nurse workforce data from 2002 through 2007 showing increases of 228,986 full-time nurses in hospital settings and 136,779 in non-hospital settings during that time. Data from 2007 shows nurse wages decreased by 1.7 percent, which correlates to the economic slowdown that started in late 2007. With unemployment rates anticipated by many experts to increase by 8 to 9 percent by year’s end, nursing still emerges as a more resilient career compared to most others.

But more nurses are carrying larger responsibilities among their families because of the recession. “Seventy percent of nurses are married,” said Buerhaus. “This increases the pressure for RNs to work because they may very well be the sole breadwinner in the household.”

His previous research projected a nursing shortage of 800,000 to 1 million by 2020. However, based on current trends, the nation will have 285,000 empty nursing positions by 2020, growing to 500,000 by 2025. “Increasingly, the projected nursing shortage is viewed as much as a quality and safety problem as it is a workforce problem,” said Buerhaus. “There is no way possible that our health care system could function without a half million nurses.”

Enrollment demand at universities remains high as well..

Paddy Peerman, assistant dean of Enrollment for Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, has seen a near doubling of applicants into the school’s master’s program in the last two years. Her admissions staff is weeding through 42 percent more applicants for fall enrollment than 2008. The School has 340 general openings for incoming M.S.N. students (including both nurses and non-nurses) and a total student body in excess of 700 students. “In addition to the quantity, the quality of our applicant pool just keeps getting stronger,” said Peerman. But, that’s the good news.

But the demand can't be satisfied because of too few nurses available to teach...

The bad news is that the faculty shortage is narrowing the potential pipeline for nurses desperately needed in the future. The National League for Nursing reports that an estimated 90,000 applicants are turned away from nursing schools, due in large part to a severe faculty shortage.

The entire report is available at Amazon: The Future of the Nursing Workforce in the United States: Data, Trends and Implications

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