The state of the nursing profession currently reflects the state of the economy. With unemployment hitting record levels, many non-active nurses have returned to the profession and others have taken on more shifts in order to meet the needs of their families.
Hospitals have been hit hard in the pocketbook by the fact that many patients are putting off elective procedures and anything that isn’t of an urgent nature. It has been a slow flu season and therefore the number of children, elderly and chronically ill have not required hospitalization for complications of flu.
Jobs are in Middle America
The number of nurses available for travel assignments has grown and therefore with simple economics of supply and demand, those who are more flexible and have more experience are getting the premier travel assignments. The east and west coasts have been more affected by the economic crisis than middle America and consequently the opportunities in these regions have been affected as well. The jobs now are available in the middle of the country, not Florida and California.
The good news is that the economy will turn around. How soon is being debated. Some predict a few months and others at least a couple of years.
The other factor is that in the next few months, we will see more nurses taking time off from taking on extra shifts or returning to work and being overworked and burned out. This will open up more opportunities.
Gain Experience and Improve Skills
For nurses who are employed or have current travel assignments, make the most of what’s available to you. Extend travel assignments as possible and look for opportunities to polish skills or to gain more experience in specialty areas. Continue your education.
Some travel nursing companies are looking for a minimum of 2 years experience in a specialty area, and making changes right now might even be a negative, but think further into the future and get the experience you want and need. The one thing that is happening across the board for nurses looking for permanent or travel opportunities, is that nurses with very little experience beyond basic med surg are having a harder time finding jobs.
As the economy improves, all those patients who have delayed procedures and care are going to need to have it done and the system is going to be overwhelmed. The nursing shortage has not been solved. There is still going to be a shortage of nearly one million nurses by 2020. Nurses who have positioned themselves to meet the challenges of the next couple of decades will be way out in front.
Post Acute Care Will Grow
Post acute care, especially home health care, is expected to be the fastest growing branch of the nursing profession over the next few years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nurses who have excellent skills in a wide variety of patient care will be able to make this transition more easily.
For older nurses who cannot stand for eight to twelve hours a day, home health care may offer a new career path for many years past what they could serve in an acute setting. The key to survival in home health is being confident in your skills, having strong critical thinking skills and being able to work autonomously. Documentation skills are a very important issue in home health care as well.
© 2009 by UltimateNurse.com All Rights Reserved.
By Kathy Quan RN BSN. Kathy is the author of four books including The Everything New Nurse Book and author/owner of TheNursingSite.com.