Nursing Employment Opportunities Vary by Region

A 2013 study in the Nursing Economics journal entitled “Projections of the Long-Term Growth of the Registered Nurse Workforce: A Regional Analysis,” reported that the supply of nurses varies significantly according to region.

In particular, the study found that the Southern and Midwestern areas of the country will have a larger supply of nursing openings, due to retiring nurses or those leaving the nursing workforce.

The study author, Peter Buerhaus, stated that nurses, employers, and workforce planners should therefore continue to pay close attention to employment demands across the country. The study broke down long-term projections for the registered nurse workforce into regions as to determine their differences.

Planning for the Future

The information from the study should be used to guide workforce planners and others when “developing policies and initiatives that may impact nursing supply in their states,” says Buerhaus. In other words, states with slow growth for the nursing profession should examine the reasons for their slow growth and find ways to boost their education programs. On the other hand, states with higher growth of RNs should find new ways to recruit new nurses in states with lower growth, thereby evening out supply and demand.

The expansion of the nursing workforce relies on new nurses entering the workforce to replace those who leave the workforce.  Anything that may alter the flow of nurses may have a serious impact on the supply of nurses, particularly in the coming years, when nursing shortages are expected due to the surge of baby boomers and those with chronic conditions.

The experts state that areas of lower RN demand could discourage new nurses from entering the workforce, which may also greatly impact the supply of nurses in the coming years. Currently about 35 states have nursing workforce centers in place to collect and analyze data on these issues.