Nursing

What to know about New Nurses: Location

Nurse Leader Insider, January 21, 2016

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The healthcare industry is facing a shortage of nurses as members of the baby boomer generation retire and the industry expands. The upcoming decades are going to be reliant on new nurses to fill the gaps left by their predecessors. As a manager, what do you know about the people that will make up your staff in upcoming years?

Take a map of the U.S. and point to any town with a population of 100 or more. Odds are that within 30 miles of town center you’ll find a post office, a police station, a bar, and a hospital.

Hospitals and healthcare centers are key facilities and can be found pretty much everywhere. Coupled with a growing healthcare industry and more people getting nursing degrees, you would expect that after getting their license most new nurses would flock to big cities and big states for more job opportunities.

A study done by the RN Work Project found that this wasn’t quite the case. Instead, 88% of new nurses find their first job in the same state they attended high school. In fact, 66% of nurses currently work within 100 miles of their high school, with 35% working less than 15 miles away!

There are several factors that a new nurse needs to consider when thinking about moving. There’s economic factors such as the cost of living and average nursing salary in a given state. It may be more feasible for a new nurse to live with their parents and keep their expenses low while they pay off student debt. Then there’s practical considerations like the number of job openings and competition for those openings, particularly considering the difficulty new nurses have finding work. Finally, there’s the social considerations of moving away from friends and family and starting a new career in a foreign environment.

Given the increasing needs for more nurses, this lack of mobility can be an issue for states with fewer nursing programs and smaller nurse populations. A short term solution is to target your job postings at local nurses. If you haven’t already, making inroads with nearby nursing degree programs can help drive more new applicants to your door.

As for long term, you should create some incentives to encourage out-of-state nurses to move to your area. Scholarships and internships for out-of-state nurses can help you recruit and retain new nurses. Starting an off-hours program where locals show newbies and interns around can help them feel more comfortable in a new town.

One big area to look into is tuition reimbursement. As of 2011, only 69% of healthcare facilities offered tuition reimbursement to first time nurses, down from 86% in 2005. Even offering partial reimbursement can make all the difference for a new nurse deciding where to start his or her career.

 

Please visit our blog, The Leaders' Lounge, for more on new nurses and nurse management.



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