Fewer New Nurses Starting Their Careers In Hospitals

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

Photo by Ken Treloar on Unsplash

Fewer new nurse grads are going to work in hospitals today compared to six years ago.

This finding comes from a study conducted by the RN Work Project, which is a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The study looks at two groups of new nurses, the first newly licensed in 2004-2005 and the second licensed in 2010-2011.

Among new nurses in the 2010-2011 cohort, 77.4 percent began their nursing careers in hospitals. This is compared to 88.8 percent of the 2004-2005 cohort, according to a release about the study. Other major differences include the percentage that worked in the ICU (18 percent in 2004-2005, 11.6 percent in 2010-2011) and the percentage working in Magnet hospitals (10.3 percent in 2004-2005, 13.5 percent in 2010-2011).

Additional findings reflect that the economy was in better shape when the 2004-2005 group graduated than it was six years later. More nurses from the later group reported that they weren’t able to find jobs–31.1 percent from that group, compared to 11.8 percent in the earlier group.

The 2010-2011 group was also more likely to be enrolled in a formal education program–16.6 percent compared to 11.4 percent in the earlier cohort.

“There have been several changes in the years between when these nurses passed their licensing exams, and those changes appear to have had an important impact on nurses’ behaviors and goals,” said Christine T. Kovner, PhD, RN, FAAN in the release.

“It’s possible that the increase in newly licensed RNs holding BSNs and who are enrolled in formal education programs is a function of the recommendation that 80 percent of nurses have BSNs by the year 2020 in the Institute of Medicine report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. There is also anecdotal evidence that hospitals are preferentially hiring RNs with BSNs,” Kovner said.

New nurses, do these findings match up with what you’ve experienced while looking for work? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below.


This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.
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  1. Yes, these findings are in line with the what I have experienced while searching for work. I passed the Boards in August 2017 and have applied for more than 20 jobs online. I have attended 4 or 5 Job Fairs with no favorable results. These hospitals recruiters/hiring managers are not even courteous enough to send an email advising that they have hired someone else for the position. Maybe they are practicing ageism on me because I just turned 55 last month. Really thought there was a shortage, but obviously not. From what I gather, you have to have someone on the inside to push things through for you.

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