Job opportunities for RNs in all specialties are
expected to be excellent. Employment of registered
nurses is expected to grow much faster than average
for all occupations through 2014, and, because the
occupation is very large, many new jobs will result.
In fact, registered nurses are projected to create
the second largest number of new jobs among all
occupations. Thousands of job openings also will
result from the need to replace experienced nurses
who leave the occupation, especially as the median
age of the registered nurse population continues to
Much faster-than-average growth will be driven by
technological advances in patient care, which permit
a greater number of medical problems to be treated,
and by an increasing emphasis on preventive care. In
addition, the number of older people, who are much
more likely than younger people to need nursing
care, is projected to grow rapidly.
Employers in some parts of the country and in
certain employment settings are reporting difficulty
in attracting and retaining an adequate number of
RNs, primarily because of an aging RN workforce and
a lack of younger workers to fill positions.
Enrollments in nursing programs at all levels have
increased more rapidly in the past couple of years
as students seek jobs with stable employment.
However, many qualified applicants are being turned
away because of a shortage of nursing faculty to
teach classes. The need for nursing faculty will
only increase as a large number of instructors nears
retirement. Many employers also are relying on
foreign-educated nurses to fill open positions.
Even though employment opportunities for all
nursing specialties are expected to be excellent,
they can vary by employment setting. For example,
employment is expected to grow more slowly in
hospitals—which comprise health care’s largest
industry—than in most other health care industries.
While the intensity of nursing care is likely to
increase, requiring more nurses per patient, the
number of inpatients (those who remain in the
hospital for more than 24 hours) is not likely to
grow by much. Patients are being discharged earlier,
and more procedures are being done on an outpatient
basis, both inside and outside hospitals. Rapid
growth is expected in hospital outpatient
facilities, such as those providing same-day
surgery, rehabilitation, and chemotherapy.
Despite the slower employment growth in
hospitals, job opportunities should still be
excellent because of the relatively high turnover of
hospital nurses. RNs working in hospitals frequently
work overtime and night and weekend shifts and also
treat seriously ill and injured patients, all of
which can contribute to stress and burnout. Hospital
departments in which these working conditions occur
most frequently—critical care units, emergency
departments, and operating rooms—generally will have
more job openings than other departments.
To attract and retain qualified nurses, hospitals
may offer signing bonuses, family-friendly work
schedules, or subsidized training. A growing number
of hospitals also are experimenting with online
bidding to fill open shifts, in which nurses can
volunteer to fill open shifts at premium wages. This
can decrease the amount of mandatory overtime that
nurses are required to work.
More and more sophisticated procedures, once
performed only in hospitals, are being performed in
physicians’ offices and in outpatient care centers,
such as freestanding ambulatory surgical and
emergency centers. Accordingly, employment is
expected to grow much faster than average in these
places as health care in general expands. However,
RNs may face greater competition for these positions
because they generally offer regular working hours
and more comfortable working environments.
Employment in nursing care facilities is expected
to grow faster than average because of increases in
the number of elderly, many of whom require
long-term care. In addition, the financial pressure
on hospitals to discharge patients as soon as
possible should produce more admissions to nursing
care facilities. Job growth also is expected in
units that provide specialized long-term
rehabilitation for stroke and head injury patients,
as well as units that treat Alzheimer’s victims.
Employment in home health care is expected to
increase rapidly in response to the growing number
of older persons with functional disabilities,
consumer preference for care in the home, and
technological advances that make it possible to
bring increasingly complex treatments into the home.
The type of care demanded will require nurses who
are able to perform complex procedures.
Generally, RNs with at least a bachelor’s degree
will have better job prospects than those without a
bachelor’s. In addition, all four advanced practice
specialties—clinical nurse specialists, nurse
practitioners, midwives, and anesthetists—will be in
high demand, particularly in medically underserved
areas such as inner cities and rural areas. Relative
to physicians, these RNs increasingly serve as
lower-cost primary care providers.
Information on Registered Nurses in America:
Information on Licensed Vocational and Practical Nurses in America: