Nursing shortage means opportunity for those interested in health care
September 25, 2011 - 1:03 am
Despite a slow economy, the health care industry continues to thrive. This is partially due to growing demand from the aging baby boomer population, who require additional health care services today and into the future. These same boomers are retiring, leaving many areas of the health care field open for new professionals looking to get involved in helping others.
Nurses, in particular, are in high demand. Many areas of the country are experiencing major nursing shortages. Those with a degree and certification are valuable to employers, and it’s not uncommon for experienced nurses to have a number of opportunities to choose from.
Jobs in health care are increasing despite losses in other major industries. Over the last 12 months, health care has added 283,000 jobs, or an average of 24,000 jobs per month. As the largest health care occupation, registered nurses will likely fill many job openings in the future. With above-average growth numbers projected through 2018 and a national median wage of $62,450, there is a unique opportunity for registered nurses.
The majority of nurses work in a hospital — approximately 60 percent — but nurses are also needed in other places. Some alternative workplaces include offices of physicians, home health care services, government agencies and educational services. Because complicated procedures, once only performed in hospitals, are now being performed in physicians’ offices and in outpatient care centers, demand for qualified nurses with strong leadership skills at these locations is increasing.
Whether just starting down the nursing career path or looking to take on a leadership role and influence the delivery of care, education and training are highly valued by employers in this field. Higher education helps practitioners become more skilled and knowledgeable nurses, thus allowing them to step forward as leaders, while helping improve health care delivery and patient outcomes.
How can you become a nurse? Getting the right education is key. Employers expect nurses to keep their skills current and be able to handle multiple tasks and an increasing number of patients. There are a variety of options for those considering a nursing degree. Typically nurses get a two-year associate degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree that includes course work and clinical training. For those that wish to expand their skill set and become leaders in this field, higher education programs prepare nurses for the increased responsibilities and challenges facing today’s health care practitioners.
Many nursing students today are considered nontraditional students. This means these working learners have full-time jobs, are parents, spouses or active members of the military. If you fit into this category, you can still pursue a nursing degree through a flexible online school like University of Phoenix, which has one of the largest nursing schools in the United States with more than 30 years of experience.
For nurses who have a two-year degree and want to advance to a four-year degree, the RN to BSN program (registered nurse to bachelor’s of science in nursing) provides students the opportunity to advance their credentials, knowledge and skills on their own schedule, allowing time for family and other work obligations.
Nurses help those in need both emotionally and physically. Some nurses choose to specialize in a type of patient, such as children or the elderly, or they specialize in a certain area of treatment, such as in the emergency room or during surgery. No matter what your personal interest, the demand for nursing continues to grow and offers a once in a lifetime opportunity for those looking for job security, career growth and the ability to make a difference in other people’s lives.