As the economy improves and unemployment rates go down, some job markets are growing faster than others. One such market is for registered nurses. The outlook for nurses is bullish and there’s reason to be optimistic for those in healthcare professions.
Job Outlook and Growth Predictions
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts the average growth rate for all occupations from 2014-2024 will be 7 percent. So, when you consider that the numbers suggest there will be 16 percent growth in the nursing job market, it’s clear that things are headed in the right direction.
In 2014, there were 2.75 million registered nurses employed in the United States. There are expected to be a total of 439,300 jobs added by 2024. That equals almost 44,000 new jobs per year, or 3,600 per month.
Contributing Factors in Play
But why exactly is the nursing job market expected to grow at more than twice the rate of the national average? There are a number of independent and interrelated factors in play.
Let’s examine a few of them.
1. Better Programs
One key factor in the growth of the job market is the volume of prepared graduates entering the workforce. More and more schools are making education more flexible and convenient. This is producing better graduates who are fully prepared to seamlessly transition into jobs.
As employers begin to recognize that today’s recent graduates are more prepared than in the past, they’re much more willing to take on additional employees and staff members. This creates a natural process where experienced nurses get promoted and graduates fill the positions they’re leaving behind.
“The new roles for nurses are just developing, which makes it an exciting time because we will see an increasing number of new positions in the future,” says Judith Berg, MS, RN, FACHE, who closely follows job market trends.
2. Increased Demand for Healthcare Services
In the coming years, there will actually be an increased demand for nurses. This is due to a number of issues that are just now coming to the forefront.
“Demand for healthcare services will increase because of the aging population, given that older people typically have more medical problems than younger people,” the Bureau of Labor Statistics explains. “Nurses also will be needed to educate and care for patients with various chronic conditions, such as arthritis, dementia, diabetes, and obesity.”
Another reason for increased demand is the rise in individuals who have access to health insurance as the result of federal health insurance reform. People who didn’t have insurance in the past or couldn’t afford to be seen, can now theoretically obtain care without breaking the bank.
And finally, financial pressure on hospitals to release patients quickly and efficiently is unfortunately creating an environment where more people end up in long-term care facilities down the road. That will create new demand for a special set of nurses in residential care facilities and home settings.
3. Shortage of Primary Care Professionals
Believe it or not, there’s actually a shortage of primary care professionals currently in the industry. As a result, polices have been changed to allow nurses to take on more responsibilities. These include things like ordering tests and even prescribing certain classifications of medication. Ultimately, this has increased the median salary for nurses.
The median salary for a nurse practitioner is $96,018 per year, while registered nurses make right around $67,490. This lucrative earning potential is pushing many into the field. And whenever there’s adequate incentive for both the employer and the applicant, job growth is inevitable.
4. Increased Respect and Recognition
It’s not just that nurses are getting more responsibilities as a result of primary care shortages, though. The overall respect for nurses has grown tremendously in the industry.
“[Nurses] are now important members of the healthcare workforce and their role is to deliver patient-centered care that is efficient and cost-effective,” Nurse Journal points out. “Now that nurses are being valued more, the career is becoming more interesting for many people and this is leading to a significant growth in the workforce as well. This trend started some ten years ago and is likely to continue over the following ten years as well.”
Positive Signs for Economy and Job Market
With the country still trying to escape the ill effects of the recent recession, it’s good to see healthy signals that key industries like healthcare are on the rise.
As you can see, it appears that the job market for nurses will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. That’s good news for those already in the industry, as well as welcome news for those aspiring to enter the job force in the coming years.