For the past 13 years, colleges in the state of New York have been churning out new nurse graduates at an increasingly faster pace. 2014 marked a 6% increase in nursing graduates alone. In fact, the number of new nurse graduates has doubled in New York since the peak of the nursing shortage in 2002.
The boom in nursing graduates can be attributed to the massive efforts of many organizations to recruit students into nursing programs – efforts that began during the nursing shortage and continue today.
Not only are there more new nurses entering the workforce each year, but a higher number of them now have four-year degrees. In fact, this past year marked the first time that the four-year degrees outpaced the associate degrees in New York State. These statistics beg the question, if this trend is an indication of what is happening in other areas around the country, is the U.S. healthcare system prepared for all of these new nurses?
In recent years, new nurse grads have had some difficulties in landing a hospital job after graduation. Because of the economic downturn, older, seasoned nurses were staying in their jobs longer. This meant that hospitals didn’t need to hire new nurse grads – and many of them didn’t want the added expense of providing the recent grads with on-the-job training and experience.
But, with the Affordable Care Act, the economic recovery, and other factors, the landscape is changing for nurses. Nurses will soon be in greater demand as the baby boomers age. In addition, older nurses who had delayed retirement during the recession may start to leave the workforce. In the meantime, the competition for jobs among new nurse grads is still fairly stiff.
While the newly minted nurses will surely be greatly needed soon, hospitals still need to firm up their orientation and training programs to be sure that there are programs and policies in place to ensure that the new hires reach a competency level that is in line with the facility’s mission and values.
What are your ideas for how hospitals can adequately prepare new nurses for the job? How can seasoned nurses help in this process? What can student nurses do now to prepare for graduation and job-seeking? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.