As the economy recovers from the recession that began in 2007, the nursing job market is on the rise once again. Nursing will continue to grow fast through 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With an aging population and millions of Americans gaining access to health care under the Affordable Care Act, the nursing profession will continue to experience a shortage of nurses.
This shortage has been cyclical and prevalent for several decades, but during the recent economic downturn, many people thought the shortage was over. The truth is that, due to financial concerns, many nurses from the generation of "baby boomers" have deferred their retirement. Health care was not a priority, and employers reduced their staffing expectations. Many newly graduated nurses struggled to find jobs as the nursing job market seemed to dry up.
Today, as the economy recovers, many older nurses are expected to retire, and some experts are fearful of a mass exodus, which will create a huge demand for newly trained nurses. Along with the shortage of nurses, there has also been a shortage of nurse educators, causing nursing programs to turn away thousands of qualified students. The effects of a false hope for an end to this shortage will be felt in meeting the demand for nurses over the next few years.
The demand for quality health care is growing, and nurses are known to be the backbone of the health care system. The roles for nurses have expanded and will continue to grow to meet the needs of the public.
The Future of Nursing
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sponsored a study in 2008 with the Institute of Medicine to determine the future needs and roles of nurses. The results of that study show that the job market for nurses will continue to grow, and nurses' roles will expand. Nurses will also need to reach higher levels of education in order to provide the quality of care that the public will demand. This provides an excellent forecast for students exploring the nursing profession.
Nursing students and current nurses should seriously consider advanced education opportunities, so that they are prepared to meet the needs of the health care system within the next decade.