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Nursing shortage, or nursing glut...?

Remember when health providers warned of the pending shortage of trained nurses to handle the pending onslaught of baby boomer-generation patients?

Then the Great Recession came and suddenly nursing jobs were no longer as plentiful as they'd once been.

Leaders at Mayo Clinic even made the difficult to rescind job offers to some newly graduated nurses who had expected to work at Mayo here in Rochester, Minnesota. 

But the online nursing information site "NurseZone" says the "outlook for nursing jobs seems promising" for 2011. One problem for new jobs seekers has been that nurses who might otherwise have retired have stuck with their jobs after their nest eggs shrank. 

"But experts say that the job situation will likely improve as the year unfolds. The first half of 2010 did not result in sustained job growth for hospitals, but by August, hospitals were starting to steadily add more jobs," NurseZone "Nursing News" contributor Jennifer Larson writes.

U.S. News & World Report called nursing one of the best 50 careers for 2011, Larson notes.

It's tough to predict the exact nature of 2011 nurse staffing needs, her article says. 

"…The average age of a registered nurse in 2008 rose to 47. Many older nurses stayed in the workforce when the economy dipped, but as it improves, they’re likely to begin retiring, which will open up jobs…," her story says.

Larson correctly points out one of the biggest problems of nurse staffing — the availability of open spots in nursing education programs. When I have spoken with nurse leaders about staffing, especially in recent years, that topic has inevitably come up.

Too few nurses take the leap of faith to continue their education and become professors of nursing. Thus, there might be plenty of people who want to eventually become nurses, but not enough instructors to provide the education they're looking for.

If you're interested in patient care, consider also thinking of the possibility of becoming a nursing instructor.

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the Post-Bulletin newspaper, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel


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