RN Jobs Outlook for 2014

The RN jobs outlook for 2014 looks dismal, especially for new graduates confronting hospital job postings which state “no new grads.” We can blame the baby boomers for the fact that as many as 43% of new grads will not hold a job in 2014 within the profession they went to school for.

Since the recession, baby boomers have stuck to their nursing jobs. And there is no indication that they will finally let go and start retiring in 2014. While this is certainly bad news for RN grads, the oversupply of RNs could ultimately change the face of nursing for the better, and we’ll be able to thank the baby boomers for that too.

For the first time in the history of nursing, the BSN degree is becoming the new entry-level requirement for hospital RN jobs. In my opinion, this is exciting news for a profession that has been divided and harmed financially thanks to the low barriers to entry. Considering this is an era where physical therapy is moving toward the doctoral degree as the entry level for that profession, a BSN requirement is hardly overreaching for the healthcare provider who arguably has the most impact on the consumer. Not to mention physical therapists with PhDs earn $100,000.00 plus!

When the baby boomers, who represent 40% of RNs, do eventually decide to retire some of the smartest women of their generation will be gone – women who in 2014 would be choosing to be physicians, scientists or working at Google instead of becoming RNs.

I know and respect many ADN nurses, but it’s time for the nursing profession to stand up for itself and for the consumer. We should set high education standards now to start attracting the best and brightest women (and men) to be ready when the demand for RNs is high again. Soon the baby boomers will retire and need someone to take care of them. Then we’ll be looking for self-motivated, decision-makers capable of making life or death decisions in the middle of the night when no doctor or administrator is around – someone who can think, reason and react. Don’t you want them to be smart, educated and well paid? I know I do.

I’m Just Sayin’

P.S. Comment and share your opinion on the outlook for nursing jobs in 2014.

22 thoughts on “RN Jobs Outlook for 2014

  1. I disagree somewhat. I attended and graduated from a certification program for RNs. We took the same classes as the BSN graduates, minus the history, etc., that is mandatory to receive a BSN. I went to school for my nursing certificate as long as those who went to a four year university. I got my pre-requisites at the same university as the BSNs, but I chose to attend the hospital affiliated certification program because it was more hands-on, was more affordable to me as a working mom, and the hospital had a great program for working there during school. I am as knowledgeable and intelligent as those who have RN, BSN behind their name and I passed my RN state exam the first time. I do understand what you’re saying in your post, but for many of us, it may be a matter of affordability. All that being said, I did receive my nursing education and RN status at 40 years old, and in the town I live in, all a BSN gets you is $0.50 more an hour. At my age, I have no desire to become a NP and am happy doing what I do. I absolutely encourage those going to nursing school now (especially if they’re young enough to complete higher degrees and can do so financially) to get their BSN and MSN.

      1. I agree with April. I am a 22 year nurse with ADN. I hear new BSN grads in our busy ICU state that they did not go to school to take care of someone’s personal needs. Often leaving the pt unattended too. Well, I was taught to do “it” all. As a charge nurse it is very difficult to be a resource nurse for new grads. Being an ADN has not made me any less of a nurse than a BSN. It has made me a stronger nurse and person, appreciating the nursing profession.

  2. I also somewhat disagree, as April has. Those diploma grads knew their stuff! Glad you went through a program that offered more training, April. An RN grad, having gone to the same 4-year degree program as I, complained with her classmates to get more clinical time, but the instructors refused – “We are to teach you how to be leaders, not give you more practical experience.”

    There are RN grads on the East Coast without jobs for more than 2 years but they WILL NOT get outside their comfort zone to go to other states or get travel RN jobs for the experience. They won’t even consider a nursing home, prison or other non-hospital opportunities that would give them unique starts in their careers.

    It’s all in what you make of it. MINDSET.

  3. Let’s improve the B.S.N. programs. There’s a few reasons physical therapists earn more than RNs do and one of those reasons is their high entry requirements. This is the same argument we have had among ourselves since I started nursing and look where it has gotten our profession. If we keep it up medical assistants will be pushing us out next.

    1. That is so true, Vickie, regarding medical assistants as they are already able to legally do just about everything an RN can do…and they do. LVN/LPN’s will be obsolete, and ADN’s are next. They come onto a floor and have an entitled “management” posture and attitude that I find alarming. They will be taking over case management and utilization review positions next. It feels like upper management is promoting this…and medical assistants are paid even less!

  4. I graduated from Associate Degree RN program back in May 2011 and have had a ridiculous time finding a job in Indiana. At the jobs that I did get, the nurses were on power trips and were more concerned about making the new nurses “pay their dues” than actually teaching them what they knew and how to be great nurses. I just remember feeling like no one cared about me as a new employee. I didn’t get the proper training I needed, and I felt like the patients would surely be the ones who would suffer from all the negative attitudes. Nurses, especially new ones, get zero respect. If I would have known I would have NEVER went to nursing school. I thought I was getting a way to earn a great living for myself and my son while also making a difference for people who were ill or incapable of taking care of themselves. Boy, was I wrong!!!! I wasted all that money on nursing school and I am currently attempting to get accepted into a carpentry apprenticeship. Yes, my experience was THAT horrible!!!

    1. I am a male nurse that graduated from an Associate Degree program in 1993. My class had more men in it than all of the classes put together for the previous 30+years this school had been training nurses. My first job was at a hospital where most of the nurses were LPNs and they made life very difficult. I changed jobs. On my second job, everything went great. An older Filipino nurse took me under her wing and taught me everything about being a really good RN. 21 years later I am still an RN with just an ASN degree and I can do a lot. I even teach new nurse grads trying to mimic that older nurse who took me under her wing.
      The one thing I learned between my first job and my second job that saved my bacon was to be humble and ask that older nurse for help even when I already knew what I was doing. To show them the respect that they have earned through years of hard work. Over the years I have seen many new nurses eaten by the older experienced nurse. New nurses that came out of school full of themselves just as they were taught to be because they had a BSN. Yet, could not find a meatus on a fat guy, let alone put in a Foley cath safely.
      I agree with Vickie, nursing programs have to be improved. BSN degrees are important and nurses need them, especially with the coming tech trends. Things are changing in the nursing field and being able to not only do hands on but to also be able to think on their feet, rationalize, research, and most of all, impart the desire to grow as nurses and to become more than ‘just a nurse’ is so important to our job.
      I realize this may not be clear enough but then I am only an A.S. nurse and loving my job.

  5. I agree with increasing the minimum standard to BSN. Not only is the field of nursing becoming more complex, but to offset the increasing demands placed on nurses, we are asking to be paid what we are worth. That worth is easier argued when there are higher credentials behind it. The field of physical therapy is not that much more complex than it was 15 years ago (unless you want to count how to bill for your patient!), but by simply increasing the entry standard, wages for therapists have significantly increased. Increasing the entry level standard is to better the profession of nursing as a whole, and we are worth it! I also believe the added classroom time (if spent on nursing skills and practicums) could help offset the challenges new nurses face. If new nurses can come into the workplace stronger, and better prepared, we would not lose those new grads to the frustration of such a steep learning curve.

    In comparison to my training in the 4 year science program, I felt the ADN fell short on preparing nurses to be functional right out of school. I was fortunate that the local hospital recognized this and created a nursing residency to transition new grads successfully. Yet, from my colleagues who completed their BSNs, they too felt inadequately prepared. I think we need to look at the nursing training overall and rethink what skills we really need to teach and practice, and ask just how long do we need to accomplish this, and make it so.

    1. I totally agree! I was able to continue my externship through the last semester. Then they hired me on after I graduated. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have hardly any clinical skills – unless, you consider changing a bed and giving a bath clinical skills!

      1. Changing a bed and giving a bath are clinical skills! Nursing 101… Part of the nursing problem is just that… RNs are being trained to take care of everything except the patient! I have been a nurse for over 35yrs (working full time in hospitals) and I have to say that the new generation of nurses want MORE pay to do LESS! The higher the degree the more money the hospitals/patients have to pay out…but no one is taking care of the person in the bed! The people taking care of the patient are paid less for doing more and the RNs are sitting at the desk watching monitoring equipment and computers, so who’s overworked and underpaid and stressed out?

  6. I have a deep respect for all levels of nursing education. I started out as an ADN, then BSN, then MSN. I have worked alongside functional nurses at each level. I have to agree that nursing needs to step up to the plate with higher education to get the financial returns for nursing work. The more knowledge we have, the more we will advance the profession.

    The ADN level provides the basic foundation and the BSN teaches more in-depth skills along with management. The MSN program teaches how to write, management skills, nursing education, business/financial skills, and writing for grants.

    My son just obtained his PTA degree and I was shocked to find that he can make as much money as an RN. Physical therapy is running circles around nursing for higher pay. I have seen greedy hospital corporations hold the nursing profession at bay for higher pay. The nursing education system is starting to suffer the consequences of lack of student interest and the profession is suffering for lack of quality nurses.

  7. LynAnn – It is sad to say that academics lead the way to obtain degrees with classes that have nothing to do with our profession in giving quality patient care.The college institutions make a lot of money on non-healthcare classes.

    Vickie says, “If we keep it up, medical assistants will be pushing us out next.” I have seen this happen in an ER (another greedy corporation) where they had EMTs and LPNs who did a poor job on one of my loved ones. My 92-year-old uncle went to the ER for serious back pain and they could not figure out what was wrong. Four hours later, I had to point out to an LPN to “check out that pattern on the Telemetry.” Things started happening and that LPN got the credit for alerting the MD. The CT scan revealed my uncle was suffering from a dissecting aortic aneurysm. He died 5 days later. He was too critical to move and get it treated. Yes Vickie, we are already being pushed out of healthcare. Compare the cost of EMTs and LPNs vs. Registered Nurses. That is pure greed.

  8. Well, I am an RN from a diploma school which was hospital based. I am also 66 y.o. I did achieve my BSN, AND 2 years ago my CLNC® Certification. I have no intention to retire, sorry to those who feel that I am causing them not to have a job. There are so many job opportunities out there. Maybe it is not your dream job, but try anything and work toward what you want. I got the job I wanted because I graduated from that hospital school. I started school when I was 17 y.o. I am that nurse who is respected for my years of experience and knowledge. I am proud of that. To be told that I am keeping you from a job is totally untrue. Get someone else to blame. Spend your time looking for a job.

    1. Alice, you make a great point, look for any job. When I finished my RN and passes the boards as an ADN, many hospitals only wanted BSN, then when the number of nurses started getting low, boy were they glad to get any RN. It could just be a trend. There are also the various Military services. That would truly provide the new grads with excellent experience.

  9. I received my ADN as an older student, then worked toward getting my BSN. I had been a Corpsman in the Navy which also afforded a wonderful experience. There was no pay increase given after the completion of my BSN degree. In fact my supervisor and administrator wondered why I had even done it. I think the hands on the ADN nurses receive is a great benefit, and history also taken when completing my BSN. I currently work with both an ADN and a BSN, of the two, as a patient I would want the ADN, she has better people skills, more knowledge, keeps her head in an emergency, and has better problem solving abilities. The BSN nurse took 3 attempts to pass boards and would rather spend her time sitting at a computer than giving patient care. I am not saying that all BSNs fall into that category, but more than the ADNs have worked with.

  10. I just had a conversation regarding this topic with my colleagues yesterday. We work in a diploma nursing program. Employers in the area are pleased with our graduates over BSN or ADN programs because they are well prepared clinically and we have a high NCLEX pass rate. I agree that BSN programs need beefed up clinically. I graduated from a BSN program which didn’t even have us practicing NCLEX questions and minimal clinical experience. I didn’t pass my boards the first time. In our region (PA), they are talking about getting rid of diploma and ADN programs (which has been discussed for 40+ years). After our students graduate, the majority complete their BSN in a year anyway. We have also talked about nurse residency or internship programs. The problem is that the hospitals are so reluctant to spend any money with the fear of the unknown with the ACA. Our health system has just laid off many nurses and they are the ones with 25+ years experience. It’s definitely an unsettling, scary time in health care!

  11. It saddens me to hear about people having difficulty getting nursing jobs after graduation. And it also saddens me to hear that some of you are unappreciated as well. In my experience, respect is earned and jobs come to you as you work to improve your own skills. I am an ER nurse as well as a nursing educator. I have long made a 6 figure income as an RN, but I also work hard to do so. I am not too busy to give my patient that bedpan or to console their family, nor do I feel it is beneath me to do so. When patients comment on my attitude I always reply, “You’re the reason I’m here today.” When in school I worked two jobs when I could squeeze it in and when I could only work one, I stayed with the one that paid less because it was a better learning experience. Your nursing experience is as good as your attitude. Do I always love work? No way! Do I always count my blessings? Absolutely. I happen to have a BSN. My daughter has an Associates degree and my son has a BSN. Our salaries are all on the same par. I don’t see any difference in their abilities to get jobs than mine. But we have all paid our dues. My first RN job was in Medical Oncology. It was sooooo sad so often, but I truly value the learning experience I got there. My daughter interned in the ER and took a new grad job there within the past 6 years. My son interned in the ICU and took a new grad job in the NICU 3 years ago. My internship was in Level I Trauma. There are jobs. But you have to work to get them and be worthy of them.

    I am really looking forward to taking my CLNC® Certification Exam June 6. And, I am looking forward to bringing my son and daughter in with me. Will it take some hard work? Oh ya. Will it be worth it? Absolutely!

  12. Wow, this is such an interesting discussion. I would never imagine RNs having a difficult time obtaining a job. I graduated with an ADN initially. I then went back to school 7 years later to obtain my BSN, then 2 years later to receive my MSN in Nursing Education. School got so interesting me, so I decided to enter a Doctoral program in Higher Adult Education. I am in the ABD phase presently! 🙂

    I would encourage every RN to obtain a job in your field. This may mean taking a job that you really don’t desire if necessary. But by doing so, you will obtain experience and skill which may open doors for you to have opportunities for your dream position!

  13. At the ripe old age of 42, I began my journey toward an ADN; working as a CNA for 6 years had made me yearn for a spot a bit higher on the totem pole so that I could do more to help people. During my clinicals in the hospitals I was amazed by the extremely slower pace and lesser demands that the BSN students from another college had; I was scrambling to handle more than twice the homework and patient care load that they were. The sad fact was, given my age and resources, I really didn’t feel that a BSN was attainable.

    In the eight years since graduation I have worked with many nurses, both ADN and BSN grads….and I have to say that my experiences have varied widely. I’ve had the privilege of working with/for some who are great managers and caregivers…people I would have walked through fire for. I’ve also worked with/for some who were ineffective managers with poor clinical skills and even worse people skills….and I wouldn’t let them walk my dog, let alone take care of anyone I love.

    So, while I tend to agree that having a higher degree standard for entry-level nurses MIGHT help the nursing profession as a whole, I also think that it might leave a large number of really great nurses without jobs. Perhaps a solution might be found in employers offering tuition assistance and other job-related support so that their ADNs could attain a BSN degree…that way, everybody wins.

  14. I agree with your article and comments but I also disagree with them as well. Having recently been beat out again for a potential job by a new nurse grad without any experience puts me in a foul mood.

    I started my journey in the medical field in 2005 at the age of 18 as an EMT. I climbed the ranks to EMT-I within a year and began the LPN program at the local college. After graduating, I thought I could get a job…WRONG. Everyone wanted experience and being an EMT was not experience. So I went back to EMS and climbed the ranks yet again and became a paramedic. Shortly after that, I started the RN program because everyone wanted RNs. I graduated in 2011 with my ADN and started the BSN program right after. I got hired at a plasma donation center but left there due to poor management and getting hired by a hospital. I worked at the hospital for 1 year and 2 months. I left due to moving closer to family and taking care of my parents. I graduated in May 2013 with my BSN.

    Since January 2014, I have been job hunting. I have applied to RN positions with no luck. I have my RN, BSN, BLS, ACLS, experience with ventilator management and my paramedic certification. I currently work at a pizza place, as a substitute teacher, and as a transport paramedic as needed. In my experience, it appears potential employers look the other way when you have experience and a higher degree.

    I have contemplated about pursuing a Master’s degree in physician assistant studies due to giving up on nursing. But I’m not sure if the medical field is all that it’s cracked up to be. These thoughts have come from working with fellow co-workers and interacting with others when you pick up or drop off a patient. I have ran into some real winners such as a nurse that called the charge nurse asking if he should start CPR since he could not feel a radial pulse on his patient and they did not appear to be breathing to rude nurses who think they are high and mighty.

    I am still attempting to figure out what my future will hold. I keep hoping that the field will turn around and I can find a job. But that is wishful thinking in my experience. I will probably go back to school and get out of the nursing field as majority of my previous co-workers dream about.

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*The opinions and statements made by Vickie Milazzo, the founder of Medical-Legal Consulting Institute, Inc. are based on her experiences and expertise, should not be applied beyond the specific context provided, and do not guaranty or project actual results. Vickie Milazzo is no longer involved in the operations or management of the business, but is involved as an independent education consultant.

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