Nursing Careers in High Demand


With changing in the economy, aging populations and countless other factors, come changes in health care. These changes result in nursing shortages and higher demand for certain types of nurses. That means pursuing certain nursing careers over others can result in a greater likelihood of getting a job–and possibly a higher-paying job too.

According to a survey by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, it was found that the average job offer rate the time of gradation was 56% for new BSN graduates and 74% for entry-level MSN graduates, whereas the National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that only 24% of new college graduates across disciplines had a job offer in 2010 at the time of graduation.

While this shows the ongoing need for nurses, there is data that more specifically addresses certain specialties.

Registered Nurses
Despite the amount of students pursuing their nursing degrees, RNs are in high demand throughout the US and will continue to be, moving forward. The RN shortage is expected to increase as baby boomers age and the need for health care continues to grow.

Adding to the RN shortage is the fact that nearly 73,000 RNs per year leave the profession due to retirement, child rearing, returning to school, career change, death or for other reasons. As more nurses approach retirement, this trend will continue.

Since RNs make up the largest segment of the health care workforce, it is predicted that RNs will likely be called upon to fill new positions in hospitals, long-term care facilities and other ambulatory care settings that are being added.

As a practicing nurse, or even one who is new to the profession, you are strongly encouraged to consider these trends in RN entry-level employment as a chance to move your career to the next level. Also keep in mind that advancing your education will position you to get a job serving in a variety of roles as faculty, scientists, primary care providers, specialists and top administrators.

Advanced Practice Nurses
Despite the 40% increase in the number of primary care physicians in the US by 2020, only 2% of fourth-year medical students plan to work in primary care after graduation, according to a survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), in September 2008. For this reason, advanced practice nursing careers are on the rise.

Due to physician shortages, there is a particular need for nurse practitioners, who oftentimes practice on their own–without the supervision of a physician in many states. Other specialties including geriatrics are also in high demand, but for different reasons.

By 2020, the number of people aged 85 and older will have doubled. But during the past several years, the number of active registered nurses and students enrolled in nursing programs has declined. Hence the increased need for geriatric advanced practice nurses.

Prepared at the master’s level, these nurses are tasked with improving care outcomes, promoting quality of life and reducing health care costs. But today there are only approximately 3,500 geriatric APNs in the US.

There is the need for both geriatric nurse practitioners, who provide primary health care to older adults independently and collaboratively with other professionals, and gerontological clinical nurse specialists, who serve more of an educational function consulting with patients, families and health care providers to provide direct care in specific areas like incontinence and dementia.

Currently more programs are being created at both educational facilities and health care institutions in an attempt to encourage growth in this specialty.

Nurse Educators
Due to factors such as budget constraints, an aging faculty and increasing job competition from clinical sites, faculty shortages at nursing schools across the country are limiting student capacity during a time in which there is an increasing need for nurses.

The need for nurse educators is further exemplified by the fact that more than 67,000 qualified applicants were turned away from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2010 due to an insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors and budget constraints.

As nurse educators reach retirement age, the shortage will be intensified over the next decade. Consider that the average age of doctorate nurse faculty holding ranks as professors, associate professors and assistant professors were 60.5, 57.1 and 51.5 years, respectively. And the numbers are just slightly higher for masters nurse faculty at 57.7, 56.4 and 50.9 years, respectively.

Another factor contributing to the shortage of nurse educators is that other nursing careers sometimes offer more attractive salaries that cause nurses to steer away from education. For example, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners reports that the average salary of a nurse practitioner is around $89,450 while masters prepared faculty serving as associate professors typically earn around $78,155.

To get into nursing education you are encouraged to continue at a masters or doctorate level so that you are qualified to help fill positions available due to this shortage.

Clinical Nurse Leaders
This type of specialty is fairly new in the world of nursing. The need for clinical nurse leaders has arisen due to an aging population and increased client demand for new services, technologies and drugs that all contribute to an increase in health care expenditures. As clinical nurse leaders are tasked with creating better patient outcomes and financial outcomes for health care operations, the importance of this role can be better understood.

To accommodate the changing demands and innovations, clinical nurse leaders are trained in deeply rooted evidence-based practice and taught necessary leadership skills to help streamline nursing practices across a variety of disciplines and in many types of facilities.

Regardless of which path you choose, the nursing shortage continues to be an issue. But with hopes of increased enrollment in advanced nursing programs, there is hope that these demanding jobs will soon be filled.


Sources: (February 2007). White Paper on the Education and Role of the Clinical Nurse Leaderâ„¢.
(The John A. Hartford Foundation. Creating Careers in Geriatric Advanced Practice Nursing.)


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