The Nursing Shortage: Opportunities for Nurses

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The nursing shortage, though certainly not news, is still a big issue in the nursing profession – and one that doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon.

While there are many issues and concerns due to the shortage that will need to be addressed, the shortage has also created some great opportunities for nurses. Below we’ll look at the reason for the shortage, as well as how you can take advantage of new opportunities that may not have been available earlier in your career.

Why the Nursing Shortage Exists

According to the American Nurses Association, the nursing shortage in the United States exists – and will continue to exist – due to a combination of several factors:

  • An Aging Workforce – From 2000 to 2010, the average age of employed RNs increased by nearly two years (from 42.7 years in 2000 to 44.6 years in 2010).
  • An Aging Population – There has been a vast increase in the number of people over age 65 in the United States. This age group is experiencing numerous medical issues and has many health needs.
  • Healthcare Reform – New healthcare reforms give millions of people access to the healthcare system who didn’t previously have access.

Nurse.com also lists the increasing prevalence of chronic disease and limited capacity in nursing education programs as contributing to the nursing shortage.

Nursing Opportunities to Consider

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists nursing as one of the fastest growing occupations in the country, projecting that by 2022 there will be more than 1 million jobs for registered nurses due to growth and replacement needs.

What does this mean for you? Since the demand for nurses will be greater than the supply, your expertise will be in high demand. This means you will always be able to find work and earn a good salary.

This also means there will be even more opportunities in a few higher demand areas of nursing. Excited to make a switch to one of the booming nursing specialties? Below are 5 that will continue to be in demand, providing you exciting career options.

  1. Certified Nursing Anesthetist

A nurse anesthetist administers anesthesia to patients under the supervision of an anesthesiologist. They work closely with surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists and podiatrists so that anesthesia medications are safely administered.

  1. Certified Dialysis Nurse

A dialysis nurse assists individuals whose kidneys aren’t functioning properly and need to use dialysis machines. These professionals often work at dialysis clinics and enjoy a regular 9-5 schedule, rather than the more common 12-hour shifts at hospitals.

If you love to travel, this nursing specialty is also seeing demand on cruise ships!

  1. Certified Legal Nurse Consultant

If you want a change of pace from the traditional hospital environment, you might just find your niche in consulting. Many nurses in this specialty area work in law offices and some are even able to work from the comfort of their own home.

Legal nurse consultants use their health care and nursing expertise to consult with attorneys on lawsuits that are related to medical issues. Job duties include researching, reviewing standards of care, going over medical records, preparing reports, finding expert witnesses and more. 

  1. Certified Nurse Midwife

Nurse midwives enjoy delivering babies, providing healthcare to female patients and providing family planning education, as well as prenatal/postnatal care. You can work in a variety of environments, including hospitals, health departments, clinics, private practices or patients’ homes.

  1. Nurse Case Manager

Nurse case managers are responsible for monitoring a patient’s progress and evaluating their care. You’ll find this job to be a great way to maintain direct patient contact while not having to handle the daily patient care tasks of a registered nurse.

This is a dynamic role with responsibilities that are varied and often challenging, such as suggesting alternate treatments, advocating for your patients and even trying to identify the most cost effective care for the insurance provider. As a matter of fact, many nurse case managers work for insurance companies.

Whether you enjoy your current nursing position or are looking to pursue one of the in-demand nursing specialties listed above, the nursing shortage will benefit you. You will have many opportunities available over the next several years, enabling you to enjoy job stability and to explore new professional pursuits.

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