Where are the nursing jobs? How do I get one?
by Steven Pope
I’ve spoken to about 1,500 nurses in the past twelve months as an enrollment counselor at Western Governors University. There are typically two types of students I spoke to that are looking to get a degree in nursing to improve their job opportunities. The first are those that have an associates or diploma from 15+ years ago and are coming back to get their BSN, often because their hospital is forcing them to for magnet status purposes. And second are fresh graduates who just finished their associates in nursing from a community college. Both face the same problem – how to obtain or keep a nursing job?
Education, the prerequisite for a nursing job
Education is the key answer, and getting the nursing classes required can be a challenge. Luckily most of the general education classes can be taken online for college credit, but clinicals cannot. Nurses returning to finish their degree are often missing nutrition and biochemistry. Most programs also require statistics as a general education course.
Best locations for nursing jobs
In my personal opinion big cities in Texas are currently the best place to find a nursing job, by far. Salt Lake City would be my next choice. Since Austin and SLC are also ranked by AOL as the 2nd and 3rd best cities for jobs in general, it may not be related to the nursing industry at all but rather just to strong growth opportunities. Oklahoma has a lot of nursing growth, and http://www.nursingjobs.org/ shows it dominating the job listings. California may be bad in general for jobs overall, and may be the hardest state to get state nursing certification in, but its demand for nurses is very high. Since the bar is so high, the competition can be easier if you excel. California is the only state that requires a clinical for the BSN. Florida has a lot of substantial growth for nursing, which is kind of obvious because of the older population’s attraction to retiring there. So there’s a lot of elder care in Florida.
Worst locations for nursing jobs
I hate to throw any state under the bus, but nurses tell me Minnesota and many nearby Midwest states currently have some of the worst prospects for nursing jobs. Certain hospitals are run by public entities such as counties, and those are especially the ones who have had budget woes and are cutting staff. I would also recommend avoiding Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In general, avoid hospitals with a high turnover, and instead go after hospitals with a more than one year of high retention rates. (Yes, you can ask these sorts of questions in an interview.)
Best way to find a job? Network
There are many ways to network. I’m a strong believer in LinkedIn. Before you are looking for a job, be sure to add the important contacts, get the appropriate recommendations, and have a resume all ready to go. This advice is not unique to nursing.
But here’s a golden nugget. If you finish your nursing degree at Western Governors University be sure to network with HCA’s (Hospital Corporation of America) Vice President John Steele. HCA is the largest private operator of health care facilities in the world. You can watch Steele’s commencement speech, which he gave at a graduation ceremony for WGU.
At the 8:30 marker he offers to any WGU nursing grad to email him and he will give you a “serious look” in your search for a job. I enrolled at least 50 HCA nurses at WGU. HCA employees get an application fee waiver and a 10% discount at WGU.
Nursing job demand will skyrocket soon
There are a lot of nurses out of work right now. The main reason is hospitals can’t afford to hire additional staff despite a desperate need. Instead, they are paying overtime and many nurses are working more than fulltime. Add to this the aging demographics in the U.S. as healthcare technology and overall healthcare increase the average age and you have an inevitable demand for nursing on the horizon. Many of the overtime nurses will burn out, hospitals will be forced to hire staff, and when the economy recovers it will create a high demand situation overnight.
Steven Pope has an MBA from Western Governors University and Bachelors of Science in communication from Weber State University. He has a background as a television reporter in Idaho and Wisconsin, and most recently as an enrollment counselor at WGU.
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