If you’ve been paying attention to medical headlines in recent years, you’ve probably noticed that there are currently significant shortages in medical professionals, with the nursing industry being in dire need of new graduates. In response to this workforce-related crisis, the government and many universities have been heavily promoting nursing education programs and extolling the benefits of becoming a nurse, with the hope that such outreach campaigns could initiate growth in the number of students who are enrolling in nursing programs.
It seems that these efforts are paying off, because there’s been a sharp increase in positive metrics pertaining to enrollment and graduation statistics in the nursing field. In fact, there’s a distinct possibility that the shortage could be sufficiently solved by 2025. More specifically, here are 17 reasons why the nursing industry is set to expand in both size and complexity during the next 5 years:
1. Entry-Level Nurses are Advancing
Most nurses start out as a registered nurse (RN) and then advance into other nursing fields that are either more lucrative or more in line with what they’re trying to do in their careers. Nurses always have the option of obtaining additional degrees or certifications that will qualify them for job positions related to family medicine, neonatal care, pediatrics, surgical procedures and a plethora of other specializations within the vast and diverse field of healthcare. For example, RNs can use online family NP programs to become a family nurse practitioner (FNP), a position that carries an average salary of about $125,000.
2. Baby Boomer Nurses are Retiring
Nurses in the baby boomer age group are set to retire by the horde over the next decade, as more people within that demographic reach retirement age. This mass retirement has already begun, and the effects of it are responsible for a portion of the current nursing shortage. Hospitals and clinics everywhere are going to be scrambling to replace those retired nurses as quickly as possible, which means there will be a dramatic increase between 2020 and 2025.
3. Hospitals Everywhere are Hiring
Even before the baby boomer retirement trend goes into full effect, many hospitals are already short on nurses to the extent that they’ll hire brand new graduates who have no experience. That’s an appealing idea for any student who wants to be sure that they’re not wasting their time on a degree that can’t guarantee them a job soon after graduation. As more students opt for an easy and straightforward route to making $60,000-$100,000 annually, nursing schools are bound to see more enrollments.
4. Universities are Ramping Up Promotional Efforts
Universities aren’t just trying to be good Samaritans by running promotional campaigns that will alleviate the nursing shortage, as every educational institution benefits from having more students enrolled. From this perspective, there’s a business incentive for universities and online degree programs to bring in a continual influx of new students. With marketing and ad targeting techniques becoming more advanced and effective, it’s likely that the nursing education industry will see a steady rate of new enrollments over the next 5 years.
5. Most Nursing Degree Programs Can Be Completed Online
The idea of studying from home is very appealing to the current generation of high school and college students because everything revolves around the internet for this demographic. Most nursing degree programs allow you to study and take your tests online and on your own schedule, without ever having to report to a classroom or campus. This convenient study path makes nursing an ideal career path for anyone who is looking for a study-from-home educational program. However, keep in mind that some nursing degrees may require a certain amount of lab work experience, so there may be some offline components involved in some programs.
6. You Can Become a Nurse in Less Than 2 Years
Nowadays, everyone wants the fastest route to the money, and nursing does provide that in comparison to many other career paths that require 4-8 years of study before you can even apply for an entry level position in the field. Many nursing degree programs will let you earn the certification and credentials needed to start working within a hospital or clinic and earning money in as little as 24 months.
7. The Nursing Industry’s Gender Equality Gap is Slowly Fading
Traditionally, the vast majority of nurses have been women. However, in recent years, more men are becoming nurses, and the gender inequality gap is lessening at a very gradual pace. As of 2011, more than 90% of employed nurses were female. As a result of this longstanding gender inequality gap in nursing, many healthcare providers have been specifically looking to hire male nurses in order to meet the industry-wide goal of a creating a more diverse workforce. With more men taking an interest in nursing, that means there will be more nursing graduates overall.
8. An Appealing Unemployment Rate
Aside from salary and speed of graduation, another main factor that many students consider is job availability. Any student who conducts a bit of research into unemployment rates will quickly discover that nursing is one of the leading occupations in this regard, with an unemployment rate of about 2%. That essentially means that anyone with a nursing degree has a 98% chance of having a job at any given time.
9. Job Stability
Nursing jobs aren’t just widely available, they also offer stability in that graduates can expect to find jobs that will have them working many hours, on set schedules, and within the same facility day after day. That type of temporal and locational stability is appealing to many students who want a career that will let them stay local while still having the option of working long shifts.
10. The Option to Relocate or Travel
Interestingly, nursing is ideal for students who want stability and for those who want the option to get up and go. Since nursing jobs are available everywhere, nurses who have more than 1-2 years of experience can move to any country or major city in the world and expect to find employment. Likewise, there are travel nursing jobs that can have you relocating every couple of months or even as often as every month. With nursing offering the best of both local stability and international moving/traveling options, it’s not surprising that more students are gravitating towards careers in this field.
11. More Nursing Degree Programs are Popping Up
Educational institutions and online schools are recognizing the need to bring more nurses into the workforce and are in heavy competition to attract the interest of prospective students. With more universities creating nursing degree programs and promoting those courses, it’s inevitable that more people will take notice of nursing as a legitimate career option. Every university that offers a nursing degree program is another entity that can fund a promotional campaign to spread awareness about the benefits of becoming a nurse.
12. The Global Population is Increasing
With about 250 babies being born every minute on Earth, the global population is expected to reach 11 billion by 2100. Every year, you can add another 130 million babies to the list of people who are going to eventually need healthcare in their lifetimes. That means that the overall workload in the healthcare industry is increasing at an exponential rate. In fact, the demand for nurses is expanding faster than the rate of new nursing graduates, which means the industry could be looking at a perpetual shortage that might only be fully solved through the use of more efficient technologies and processes.
13. Nurses are On the Front Line of Healthcare
When you visit a hospital, you’re always going to see more nurses than doctors because nurses outnumber physicians 4 to 1. In countries like Denmark, Finland, and Japan, there are almost 5 nurses per doctor. One could argue that nurses do most of the work involved in routine patient care and treatment within hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities. In some cases, it’s possible for there to only be 1-3 active physicians on duty within a hospital unit, while in the same unit there would be 10-15 nurses. The dramatic demand for qualified nurses creates a situation in which the industry can only continue to expand at an increasingly rapid pace.
14. Desirable Salaries
Some of the highest paying nursing jobs offer annual salaries of up to $150,000 and there are at least a dozen nursing specializations that offer average annual salaries in the range of $80,000 to $110,000. On the low end of that spectrum, you’re looking at an income of about $1,500 per week. Even entry level nurses make very decent hourly wages starting at around $16-$22/hour. Also, many nurses wind up working overtime, which typically pays one and half times the usual hourly rate. So, a brand-new nurse who is earning $18/hour would actually earn $27/hour during overtime. With many hospitals being understaffed, it’s often possible for a nurse to get 10-20 hours of overtime every week. On the upper end of the spectrum, it’s possible for nurses to earn more than $50/hour as a base wage and $75/hour for overtime.
15. Career Path Flexibility
Nurses always have plenty of career advancement options due to the massiveness of the medical field. Anyone with a bachelor’s degree in nursing can enroll for a number of different master’s degree programs and do their studying in their spare time while still keeping their current job as a nurse. In fact, many nurses go on to become doctors, healthcare administrators, or even private practice owners. Ultimately, nurses have some of the most flexibility when it comes to making career progress.
16. A Fulfilling and Feel-Good Job
Academic surveys have shown that modern students prefer to pursue careers that they are passionate about. Nursing is a fulfilling job because it involves helping people who need it the most. It also provides a number of perks that can give you ease of mind in your personal life, such as the ability to perform CPR, the Heimlich maneuver, suturing, and other emergency medical procedures. The fact is, nurses assist doctors in saving lives, so it definitely meets the feel-good criteria that many younger students are looking for in their careers.
17. Competitive Employment Benefits
Nurses and other healthcare professionals enjoy some of the most competitive employment benefits, such as comprehensive life insurance, health insurance, and dental insurance coverage. Nurses also receive desirable 401(k) retirement plans with generous employer contributions. Any career that provides optimal employment benefits will inevitably increase in popularity as students look for paths that will give them the most long-term assurances. While such benefits are common in many fields, employers in the healthcare sector generally offer higher contributions and levels of coverage.
Can Nursing be Automated?
With so many revolutionary automation technologies emerging on the market, many people are starting to have the creeping concern that their job could soon be taken over by robots and software. Technology is advancing quickly and in such innovative ways, so it’s difficult to predict what a certain industry will look like beyond a 5-year projection.
While there’s a very real possibility that there could be automated triage kiosks within the next decade, many of the numerous job positions and tasks in the nursing field probably won’t be replaced by artificial intelligence any time soon.
For example, it’s unlikely that people will want to trust the wellbeing of their children with robots, as the idea of relying that heavily on automation won’t be widely accepted until at least a few decades after the widespread adoption of self-driving cars. Thus, any sensitive or detailed nursing roles related to pediatrics, surgery, anesthetics, or other similar fields are unlikely to be overtaken by automation in the near future.
In conclusion, we’re set to see a notable expansion in the number of employed nurses and enrolled nursing students between 2020 and 2025, and it’s unlikely that any nursing jobs will be completely replaced by automation any time soon.