December 12, 2011

Nursing grads beat employment odds, debunk hiring myths

Numerous polls show that recent college grads have been hit hard by the recession and are facing tough odds in finding well-paying employment.  Others show the classes of 2010 and 2011 to be underemployed, with many not finding jobs in their preferred fields or geographic locations.

Nursing grads might be proving to be the exception.  A recent survey of nursing schools conducted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing tells a story of success for recent graduates. Among those receiving a nursing bachelor’s degree, 88 percent have received job offers within four to six months; of those earning a master’s, 92 percent have found work.

At the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, informal online surveys of the 2010 graduates show a similar percentage, with 89 percent of respondents from all programs (bachelor’s, master’s, PhD and Doctor of Nursing Practice) indicating that they have found jobs; of the 11 percent not employed, nearly 10 percent indicated they were pursuing an advanced degree full time.

The Johns Hopkins survey also showed that nearly two-thirds of the respondents found positions within 90 days following graduation, and an additional 24 percent, within six months; only 8 percent indicated their search took longer.

Many of the myths surrounding employment for new nurses are being exploded by the AACN and Johns Hopkins data—myths that may have dissuaded some prospective students from seeking a nursing education and that include misconceptions about extreme difficulty with the employment search, hiring freezes at hospitals, geographic areas oversupplied with nurses and new nurses being hired to do lower-level health care.

Among Johns Hopkins grads, only 11 percent reported the job search to be very difficult, while 19 percent reported no difficulty at all. The highest percentage of respondents (71 percent) described their job search as slightly to moderately difficult. The majority of survey respondents (58 percent) found their first choice in a position, and 66 percent in their preferred geographic location. Ninety-one percent were employed by hospitals.

Sandra Angell, associate dean for student affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, says that she is finding similar, if not slightly better, results among early responses from the classes of 2011. “The jobs are there, and they’re good positions in excellent health care facilities. It might take a little longer, a bit more persistence, and occasionally a graduate might have to take his or her second choice in position or location,” she said.