If the past few years of living through a pandemic have taught us anything, it’s that that nurses are the backbone of patient care. They bring a level of compassion and dedication to their patients and employers — and so much more. Indeed, the job outlook for nursing acknowledges their critical role in society.
Statistics confirm that the healthcare industry is facing an urgent need for additional nurses. And, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the current shortage of RNs in the U.S. is only expected to increase as the need for healthcare expands and Baby Boomers age and ultimately retire.
The growing demand for nurses
One of the most significant trends in recruitment today is the increasing demand for qualified nurses. Many factors are involved in this increased need. The aging population is a two-fold problem. Many nurses are close to retirement at a time when the aging population has increased healthcare needs.
In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections 2016-2026, lists RNs among the top occupations in terms of job growth, expected to reach 3.4 million by 2026 — equaling 438,100 new registered nurses, a roughly 15% increase.
But this estimate does not include the Bureau’s projected need for an additional 203,700 new RNs each year (through 2026) to account for Baby Boomers’ retirement rate and standard demand for newly created positions.
Nurse turnover and faculty challenges
With a national average of 22.5% for RN turnover year over year, healthcare leaders are struggling to keep up with staffing ratios. As an added concern, new graduate nurse retention statistics suggest that as many as 32.8% of new graduate nurses will leave during their first year of practice.
Nurse burnout, exacerbated by the pandemic, has many nurses wanting to leave the profession completely. Additionally, nursing education is currently unable to meet the demand of educating future nurses. This demand is expected to continue to increase in the coming years, and healthcare leadership and recruiters need to be prepared.
Recruiting talented nurses
Recruiters play an important role in the future of nursing. It’s critical for to not only attract talented nurses, but also to retain them. It’s not just about filling open positions but finding the best fit for both the nurse and the organizations that employ them.
Given the job outlook for nursing, recruitment should expand to include areas beyond clinical skill sets. Emotional intelligence, adaptability, and strong communication skills should also be considered.
Honesty and transparency
New nurses don’t want their job experience to feel as though they have been involved in a bait and switch. From their first interactions with a recruiter, nurses want to know it all — the good and the bad, so they can make informed decisions about new roles.
Recruiters and leadership should be honest about what is expected of new nurses as well as the culture of the unit and how the staff work together. Realistic expectations should be clear from the beginning and should also include what the nurse can expect from leadership and administration.
Support education and specialization
The newer generation of nurses have voiced their desire for support from leadership to continue their education journey. As the profession continues to evolve, nurses now have more opportunities to pursue advanced degrees and certifications. This allows them to specialize in areas like critical care, oncology, or informatics.
This growth mindset shouldn’t be seen as a concern that nurses won’t stay long in the positions they’re hired into. It should be seen as a benefit to both nurses and their organizations. This will improve the quality of patient care and offer nurses a path for professional development.
Nurses’ mental health
It would be foolish to omit the need for nurses’ mental health when discussing the outlook of the profession. Nurses face challenging, high-stress environments every day, and healthcare leaders should recognize this and act. Implementing strategies such as mental health resources, employee assistance programs, and flexible scheduling are key. These approaches can ensure that nurses are thriving both at work and in their personal lives.
The job outlook for nursing is strong and will challenge recruiters to be innovative and try new approaches. As the demand for nursing continues to grow, recruiters must evolve their approach to attract and retain talented nurses.
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