The New Challenges in Nursing – Still a Good Career Choice?

(Last Updated On: February 10, 2018)

Know about the new changes in nursing and how they will affect your career


 

Some go into nursing hoping for a stable and secure job position and a decent wage. But most often than not, aspiring new nurses have no idea of what they are getting themselves into. This in part is due to new dramatic changes in nursing after 2008. Before that, nursing was a stable and reliable occupation but now the game has change.

No one should go into nursing thinking it will be an easy solution for their employment needs. If you go into nursing just for for the money, you might want to re evaluate if all your efforts will be worth. Nursing have changed dramatically. Wages, job security, stability, and satisfaction have turned upside down.

After the great recession of 2008, all professions underwent dramatic restructuring. And nursing did too. New health care laws, insurance changes, re structuring, and hospital low census have fueled these changes. Administration and hospital management have become more corporate and for profit rather than community oriented.

No one knows how long it will this trend last; nursing like everything else is subject to change. What we do know is that nursing is not as it was before 2008. It is a wise move today to go into nursing knowing these new changes and how they affect nursing in general.

“Don’t borrow a lot of money and try to become a nurse in a hurry. Take your time and go at a comfortable and slow pace”

These changes created by the recession have affected other professions as well, but nursing is unlike any other profession. You cannot practice nursing on your own or even learn on your own. You must be trained by a hospital and pass all the state regulations and requirements. Hospitals are by default the most influential arms and hands of health care. Hospitals to a great extent decide who gets trained and who can start working. Right now hospitals don’t find it profitable to train new nurses.

Hospitals used to be strong employers, but now they have cut down on hiring. There are several reasons for this downward trend but this will limit your ability to find jobs in significant ways. Hospitals determine weather you get in or not, and new grads know this very well as they find hospital doors closed.

The good news is that nursing offer many alternatives and fields to work. Nurses don’t only have to work in hospitals. In fact there is a new trend now and many nurses are trying to leave hospital environment altogether because of increasingly stressful workplace, short staffing, impossible time constraints, lack of support and a more complex and sick patient load. Some of other areas of nursing such as home care, hospice, are offering almost hospital wages without the high stress. Many nurses will take a pay cut in order to work in better environments.

The alternative for acute care is to work in clinics, nursing homes, and home care. Nurses can expect to find on call, part-time positions, med pass jobs in nursing homes, and some positions in clinics. Pay is about half of what nurses make in acute care and some of these jobs can be easily performed by LVN’s or MA’s making it more difficult for nurses to get these jobs. Most importantly is good to know that these positions don’t actually count as the required experience to become an acute care RN.

Although nursing has gone through all of these restructuring, nothing has been done in nursing schools in order to accommodate these changes. There is a huge gap between how much money, energy, you have to pay compared to what you actually make after graduation. Bottom line you need to accommodate and adjust for these changes.

The nursing shortage myth

For now, there’s no nursing shortage, but a nursing glut. There are speculations of a market rebound in 2020, it remains to be seen. Former nursing gluts have lasted an 2 year average; this glut however is different. Hospitals are closing units and sending patients home much sooner, nurses are being laid off, and new nurses are not being trained. Nursing schools are popping up everywhere and the number of graduates greatly outpace the number of jobs offered. This nursing glut is historically different, it has been going on since 2008 and show no signs of reversing.

However the myth of the “nursing shortage” lives on, in part perpetuated by nursing schools. For now there is no nursing shortage. Nurses with 10 years of experience are having a hard time finding jobs. You might beat these odds but again you may not.

Young and older are drawn to nursing because of a traditional perceived stable and rewarding source of jobs. People just don’t want to give up the idea that nursing delivers stable and secure jobs; it is just too good of a idea to let go. People fight to get into nursing school, and they borrow as much money as they need to complete their degree, thinking that they will find a high-paying job at the end.

Only 40% of graduate nurses actually find these good jobs right away, they are either lucky or know somebody, or they made a good connection with staff at their last rotation. For the other 60%, it is a rude awakening and finding a job it can a marathon. You are now out on your own with no job and a $60-120 K loan on your back.

The scant nursing experience you picked up at your rotations is quickly evaporating and you will face a new problem few new grad nurses are aware of. You only have about a 1 – 1.5 years to find training. If you can’t you are out of luck. New Grad programs who used to train nurses not longer exist. They might not tell you that in nursing school.

 

The disappearance of New Grad Programs

Before 2008 there used to be a well established process in which nurses were trained and introduced to the workforce. Every hospital used to have New Grad (NG) programs. At least once a year, every hospital would have a New Grad program for an average of 10 new grads. This has dwindled to a mere few here and there; a few hospitals taking a few new grads. This used to be the only lifeline for nurses to join the workforce. The lack of these programs creates serious difficulties for new nurses.

To make matters worse, for every one vacancy offered there are 1000 + applicants. It’s almost like a lottery. New Grad programs have for many years been the standard, unspoken  agreement nursing schools had with hospital industry. Schools would educate with little “hands on” experience and hospitals would provide the rest with their NG programs. There used to be two openings for every student at the end of nursing school.

New Grad programs are for the most part extinct. Hospitals and their new corporate model don’t see it as their responsibility to train new nurses, or they simply don’t see it as profitable or they simply don’t need to train new nurses because the market is flooded with nurses. In other words you need not apply if out of school for over 1 year. What kinds of jobs can you find if you have not been trained?

 

Time to re-evaluate a nursing carer

Nursing school is really geared to hospital work. Most young new nurses have a hospital care frame of mind and nursing programs are mostly designed to train nurses to work in hospitals. Whether you go in a different direction or not hospital experience is vital to nurses. Acute care will provide all the necessary skills that can then be applied to different types of nursing. Nurses have to find experience wherever they can, but this is difficult because with no experience you can’t touch a patient. It’s the law.

With a lot of sacrifice, some find work in nursing homes, skilled facilities, clinics, home care. These jobs however don’t pay the wages most nurses need in order to pay their loans. These jobs pay anything from $20 -35/h depending on what part of the country you’re in. Once you start working at let’s say a nursing skilled facility (NSF), it becomes difficult to go back into acute care. Acute care hiring managers do not consider skilled facility as qualifying experience.

But there is nothing wrong with these jobs, which brings me to the point of this article: You might want you to re visit your expectations for nursing. Now is the time to think about what nursing really is, and ask yourself, “Do I want that?” Taking care of people involves a human sacrifice you might not be up to. On a positive note, you’ll still make more money than many other occupations out there and nursing can bring lots of satisfaction once you find your footing.



 

Conclusion

If you try hard, eventually you’ll find work; the more experience you have more work will come your way. Nurses are respected and there are some real life skills you’ll take home. Nursing will always be an strong profession because you deal with real life and death situations. It doesn’t get any more intense and rewarding than that.

Nursing used to be a safe and stable profession but now offers the same road blocks and difficulties as many other professions do. Nursing is still a noble profession and I encourage you to try. But don’t ever think it will be a walk in the park. Prepare yourself for the task and apply your critical thinking from the get go. In the end, it will be all part of your training as a nurse.




 

 

 

Image credit: flickr.com

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In Category: 1.NURSING

Marcos Taquechel

Marcos is an RN. Thanks for stopping by and reading my posts. I hope you are able to get something useful out of this blog. Take good care of yourself and don't worry about anything until you have something to worry about.

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