According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
overall job opportunities for registered nurses are expected to be
excellent, but may vary by employment and geographic setting. Some
employers report difficulty in attracting and retaining an adequate
number of RNs. Employment of RNs is expected to grow much faster than
the average and, because the occupation is very large, 581,500 new jobs
will result, among the largest number of new jobs for any occupation.
Additionally, hundreds of thousands of job openings will result from the
need to replace experienced nurses who leave the occupation.
Employment of registered nurses is expected to grow by 22 percent from
2008 to 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth
will be driven by technological advances in patient care, which permit a
greater number of health 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.
However, employment of
RNs will not grow at the same rate in every industry. The projected
growth rates for RNs in the industries with the highest employment of
these workers are:
public and private
is expected to grow more slowly in hospitals -- healthcare's largest
industry -- than in most other healthcare 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.
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 fast in these places as healthcare in
in nursing care facilities is expected to grow because of increases in
the number of older persons, many of whom require long-term care. Many
elderly patients want to be treated at home or in residential care
facilities, which will drive demand for RNs in those settings. The
financial pressure on hospitals to discharge patients as soon as
possible should produce more admissions to nursing and residential care
facilities and referrals to home healthcare. 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
Employment in home
healthcare is expected to increase 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.
job opportunities are expected to be excellent for registered nurses.
Employers in some parts of the country and in certain employment
settings report 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. Qualified applicants to nursing
schools are being turned away because of a shortage of nursing faculty.
The need for nursing faculty will only increase as many instructors near
retirement. Despite the slower employment growth in hospitals, job
opportunities should still be excellent because of the relatively high
turnover of hospital nurses. To attract and retain qualified nurses,
hospitals may offer signing bonuses, family-friendly work schedules, or
subsidized training. Although faster employment growth is projected in
physicians' offices and outpatient care centers, RNs may face greater
competition for these positions because they generally offer regular
working hours and more comfortable working environments. 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,
nurse-midwives, and nurse 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.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.