Why Can't New Nurses Find Jobs?
Kathy Quan | NursingLink
What’s happening with the nursing shortage? Why can’t new grad nurses find jobs? The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics still lists nursing as one of the most in demand careers, and yet finding a job as a nurse remains elusive.
The Good Ol’ Days
Just a couple of years ago, nurses could demand huge sign-on bonuses and dictate salaries, perks, and benefits. Today, those kinds of rewards are unheard of. Nurses take what they can get, while hospitals have the luxury of demanding more experience, better education, and specific skills.
In 2008, students beginning their nursing education felt certain they would be able to walk right into a high paying job upon graduation. So what happened? Simply put, the economy tanked. Between 2008 and 2009 over 2.6 million people lost their jobs and their health care coverage. In recent months we have seen the beginnings of a recovery, but unemployment remains high and continues to adversely affect the health care industry.
Many nurses poised to retire have delayed their plans, while many of those who weren’t working have returned to work driven by economic factors (like 401Ks that essentially disappeared as the bottom dropped out of the stock market).
Can’t Afford Health Care
Of course, no matter what the economy is like, people continue to get sick, but they can’t always afford appropriate health care. Keeping food on the table and a roof over their heads has become much more important than seeking health care, even for the chronically ill. Those who haven’t lost their jobs have seen hikes in health insurance premiums and copays, as well as a decrease in covered benefits. This has taken a toll on elective procedures, treatment, and care that can be delayed.
Fewer Cases of the Flu
In spite of the threat of a pandemic from the H1N1 flu virus, we’ve seen milder flu seasons over the past couple of years. A cash-strapped and frightened public educated themselves and heeded public health efforts. They learned about controlling infections, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning surfaces properly, and washing hands frequently. The public stayed healthy through the course of each flu season, leaving hospitals with empty beds.