Nursing Hiring Slows--For Now

The healthcare industry is seeing a recessionary slowdown in hiring, but long term, the need is still great.

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Buried in the Labor Department's jobs report on Friday was this nugget of information: "Health care employment continued to trend up in March (14,000); however, monthly job growth in the first quarter averaged 17,000 compared with 30,000 per month in 2008."

Healthcare hiring is slowing. That means a tougher path to a job than most healthcare workers and students had anticipated. Most have heard nothing but warnings about massive impending labor shortages thanks to the babyboomer generation aging and leaving the workforce, just as it needs more medical services.

Some industry leaders are a bit nervous that the current recessionary slack in hiring would discourage potential students or shave some of the size of educational programs.

Despite the near-term slowdown, the longterm trend continues to show greater demand for healthcare workers.

The strange dichotomy between the current situation and future need is causing problems in Michigan, for one. From the Ludington Daily News:

Bissonnette said the state is projected to have a shortage of 18,000 nurses by 2015.

And Collins said the poor economy makes the situation more complicated because some nurses who were expected to retire haven’t yet, leading many students to leave the state looking for work. “This is a relatively small area, and the majority of my students stay in this area. In order for them to get jobs, they would have to leave the area.”

Nurses leaving the state will only exacerbate the problem, according to Bissonnette, and are unlikely to return because there is such a high demand for them elsewhere.

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