Brenda Echeverria is graduating from nursing school next month, and she’s worried about finding a job. Despite a nationwide nursing shortage, hospitals are tightening their belts in a struggling economy. And with an increase in competition, Echeverria may have to consider taking a job in another nursing field while she waits for a spot at a hospital to open.
Brenda Echeverria is graduating from nursing school next month, and she’s worried about finding a job.
Despite a nationwide nursing shortage, hospitals are tightening their belts in a struggling economy. And with an increase in competition, Echeverria may have to consider taking a job in another nursing field while she waits for a spot at a hospital to open.
“I’d like to end up in pediatrics, but in this economy, hospitals aren’t hiring as much,” the 32-year-old Rock Valley College student said.
But just when the economic slump meant fewer nursing jobs, local nursing schools, which increased their enrollment numbers to meet the burgeoning demand, are fielding even more inquiries from unemployed workers looking to nursing as a second career.
A third of RVC’s graduating nursing class doesn’t have jobs, according to a survey by Associate Dean Lois Lundgren. And when OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center recently announced 10 open positions in its nursing residency program, it got more than 300 applications.
“When we started school, everybody was in the mindset that there’s a nursing shortage and we’d have no problem getting a job, that places would be knocking on your door,” said Beth Larson, 31, a nursing student graduating in May. “The tables have been totally turned upside-
down. It’s frustrating because we’ve all worked so hard, and it just adds anxiety onto all of the other things we’re doing.”
Part of the pullback is that hospitals are treating fewer patients, who are putting off procedures because of insurance loss or increased insurance costs, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
The health-care sector still is adding jobs, but the growth has slowed because more-experienced nurses are coming out of retirement or delaying it, and part-time nurses are taking on full-time positions.
“We are in a shaky economy, and our business really centers around the needs of patients,” said Lucy Reavis, OSF’s director of human resources. “That’s the challenge in a health-care environment.”
Still, the hiring slowdown is probably temporary, local officials say. The average age of a nurse is 56, and analysts with the Bureau of Labor Statistics project that more than 587,000 new RN positions will be created through 2016.
Richard Theyerl, 48, started his second career as a nurse after graduating from Saint Anthony College of Nursing in December. He’s working in the surgery department at OSF after completing his internship there.
“It started off as self-serving, knowing that nurses are sure to get hired. I wanted to stay in Rockford, my kids are in school here, my wife is employed here,” he said. “The more I got into it, the more I started loving it. Every day, I’m more sure that this is what I should be doing.”
Melissa Westphal can be reached at (815) 987-1341 or firstname.lastname@example.org.