Nursing ranks among the most durable and resilient occupations. Licensed nurses are essential in looking after the aging population, which means this line of work has amplified work opportunities and a high rate of employment. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a worrying shortage of nurses, and there has been a steady increase in the demand for nurses over the last few years.
This presentsa golden opportunity for students to enjoya favorable career in the healthcare sector. You can easily climb the ladder from being a nursingassistant to more advancedpositions in nursing. In fact, schools have recognized the present demand for nursing and are taking steps to accommodate more students. These days, nursing programs are available through hybrid and online options in addition to traditional in-person learning.
What’s even more extraordinary is that many non-nursing students are switching their careers to nursing in responseto this ever-increasing demand. With its cutting-edge simulation lab and faculty support, students canattend the direct entry MSN programoffered by Elmhurst University without having to leave their current job. Their online Master’s Entry in Nursing Practice (MENP) program is the first of its kind in the country to be offered online. It is designed specifically for students with bachelor’s degrees in other fields who want to enter the profession of nursing.
Here is a look at what is causing the nursing shortage and some of the sectors with the strongest demand. We’ll also explore what makes this career especially beneficial for the nursing experts of today and tomorrow.
Reasons behind the increasing nursing demand
Here are some of the factors that are contributing to the soaring demand for qualified nurses.
An aging workforce
More than 40% of registered nurses are older than 50. In the upcoming 15 years, a significant part of the nursing workforce will naturally reach the age of retirement. According to a research article published in Medical Care forecasting the distribution of the size and age of the nursing workforce to 2030, staff retirement will accelerate from 20,000 to almost 80,000 in the course of a decade, owing to the number of aging RNs in the healthcare sector today.
A shortage of nursing faculty
According to the annual report of graduation and enrollment by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), there has been a lack of adequate clinical preceptors, classroom spaces, clinical sites and nursing faculty. Because ofthese factors and budget limitations, American nursing schools turned away 91,938 qualified applications for bachelor’s nursing degrees in 2021.
An elderly population
The US Census Bureau reports that by the year 2030, more than 82 million inhabitants of the US will be 65 years or older. Consideringthe number of citizens whowill transition into old age by then, the demand for nurses will rapidly expand. This is especially true for specialists in geriatric care.
Surging life expectancy
This study also states that people living in the USare enjoyinga longer life expectancy thanks to developments in medical and scientific knowledge. Having a longer life also means that more people will require special care.
Dire need for new nurses
Due to the lack of sufficient nursing faculty, there is a dire need for newly trained nurses. Although enrollment in entry-level baccalaureate programs in nursing increased by 3.3% in 2021, the AACN also reported drops in Ph.D. and master’s nursing program enrollmentof0.7% and 3.8%, respectively. Will nursing institutes be able to meet the estimated demand for nursing services?
Moreover, the need for primary care providers, researchers, and nursing faculty has also increased significantly. The Employment Projected program of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the workforce of registered nurses will increase by 6% in the coming decade.
Funding for care improvements and employment of new nurses in Illinois
On May 21, 2022, Governor Pritzker signed HB246,an equity-focused and revolutionary nursing home rate legislation. With this came the historic improvement of life for residents of nursing homes across Illinois. The reform includes the following measures:
- Funds associated with upgrading basic quality measures will be provided.
- Licensed nursing assistants will receive a new pay scale that gives them a salary hike based on their years of experience in the field of nursing.
Since the reform, health outcome improvements have been noted in residents. The employment rates of nursing students have also increased.
These reforms were first introduced in March 2021 by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services of Illinois. This reform model has been implemented for the first time in the state of Illinois.It is also the first state to incentivize better hospital staffing to this extent.
Every citizen should have access to affordable and reliable healthcare services. In the words of the governor himself: “Illinois will no longer tolerate an emphasis on profits over people, especially at the expense of our most vulnerable Illinoisans. When it comes to taking care of our seniors, Illinois is setting a new standard – the highest in the nation.”
Where is thehighest demand for nursing professionals in Illinois?
In the coming decade, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the need for healthcare diagnosis and treatment practitioners and registered nurses will increase by 9% and 6%, respectively. These statistics surpass the standard for all professions nationwide.
Some of the thriving industries for registered nurses in Illinois include:
- Home healthcare services
- Physicians’ offices
- General medicine hospitals
Another area experiencing high demand in the field of nursing is nursing educators. The need for nursing faculty is not restricted to Illinois; it is being felt throughout the nation. Places where nursing mentors are most in demand include:
- General medicine offices
- Junior colleges
- Professional schools
The shortage of nursing staff has impacted the entire healthcare system. Several settings and roles waiting to be filled by registered nurses include:
- Hospitals – critical, chronic, and acute care
- Clinics – starting from pediatrics to geriatric care
- Long-term care facilities and nursing homes
- Mental health centers
- Rehabilitation centers
- Travel nursing
- Veterans’ homes
How can students benefit from this nursing shortage?
The figures imply a solid projection of the demand for nursing professionals and a strong prospect of growth. When you enter the world of nursing, whether this was your dream or a sudden enlightenment, you will come across a wide variety of job opportunities.
Let’s look into some of the most common nursing career paths and education and how you can flourish in this market.
Become a registered nurse
One of the most popular career choices for potential nursing experts is to become a Registered Nurse, or RN. In order to become a licensed nursing professional, you need to finish your formal education. This willalso include practical componentssuch as clinical rotations and passingthe NCLEX-RN examination. The typeof program you choose will determine the timeframe for course completion. While some candidates choose to go for four-year credentials, others obtain an associate degree.
The NCLEX-RN is a standardized examination regulated by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). It verifies the skills of a candidate and certifies them for licensure. Aspiring RNs need to pass this test before they can follow the requirements for certification. You can find some of the common requirements listed in the NCSBN state licensure board directory.
Upgrade your current healthcare career
There are numerous ways to boost your career if you are currentlyworking in the healthcare or nursing sectors. You can foster new skills and move forward inyour professional standing by completing a bridge program. This will broaden your earning prospects, expand your job possibilities, and enable you to benefit further from the increasing demand for nursing staff.
LPN to RN bridge
LPNs, or Licensed Practical Nurses, can enroll in bridge programs to acquire additional skills and expand their career progress as RNs. Typically, these programs take two years to complete. If you opt for accelerated and intensive programs, the timeframe will be further reduced. This is especially true for current nursing experts.
Paramedic to RN bridge
Similar bridge programs aid paramedics in executing existing knowledge and skills necessary for certifications in nursing authorization. Students must obtainatwo-year nursing degree, but some willopt to geta bachelor’s degree instead. This typeof program enhances previous foundations in a non-repetitive and accelerated format.
Become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
If you are early in your nursing career, becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse might be the pathway you are looking for. LPNs are not as high-level as RNs, but they exercise a broader spectrum of responsibilities than Certified Nursing Assistants. They also have greater earning and job potential.
If you opt to be an LPN, you will be working under registered nurses and sharing the workload. It is because of this factor that LPNs contribute greatly to reducing the stress that stems from the ever-increasing demand for nurses.
Whether you want to earn a certification or a degree, most LPN programs take a few years to finish. Hands-on modules such asclinical rotations and fieldwork placements in LPN programs will help you strengthen your CNA basics and gather more healthcare skills.
Become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
If you are exploring the nursing field or are still a student, becoming aCertified Nursing Assistant (CNA) should be your first step. Once you obtain your CNA diploma, you will be qualified for entry-level work in medical care facilities. CNA programs will also help you reinforce further career progress. For example, aCNA degree will help you meet certain criteria beforehand if you are planning to become a registered nurse in the future.
CNAs offer support toregistered nurses and other medical experts, alleviating some of the stress placed on nurses. CNA programs introduce the fundamental knowledge and skills associated with nursing and only take a few months to complete.
Become a nursing instructor
You can combat the ever-growing demand for nurses in Illinois by addressing one of the principal reasons behind the lack of nursing staff and becoming a nursing educator. These individuals minimize this deficiency by offering better opportunities for nursing education to capable nursing candidates.
If you are already an accomplished professionalin the nursing sector, you can acquire a master’s degree in the domain of your expertise. Following your current strengths to obtain a master’s is the most convenient pathway, but if you have a knack for research, you could study further and obtaina nursing doctorate.
Master’s of Science in Nursing
A master’s of science in nursing can prepare you for vast employment opportunities and a broader field of practice. You will find multiple forms of the master’s programs tailored to suit those with a diversity of backgrounds, such as BSN to MSN, RN to MSN, accelerated format, and direct entry.
The pathway to becoming a nurse practitioner will help you flesh out the knowledge foundations and core skills that are used by registered nurses. The duties of a nurse practitioner include providing ongoing care to patients, diagnosing issues, prescribing medications and other tasks. They often tackle an extensive variety of responsibilities. If you wish to become a nurse practitioner, an advanced degree will prepare you for research, training or specialized practice.