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Employment opportunities for our nursing graduates continue to look promising, at least through 2016. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the health care industry in the United States enjoyed a net gain of 419,000 jobs in 2008, bolstered by a growth outlook that continues strong through 2016. Health-related occupations make up about one half of the fastest growing occupations from now until 2016, according to the BLS. The number of registered nurses grew the most during 2008, adding 168,000 jobs through November as hospitals and health care agencies attempted to alleviate a national nursing shortage.


Even though enrollment growth is reported by AACN to have hit an 8-year low (1), nurses continue to be the most in-demand practitioners in the health care arena. The number of registered nurses is expected to grow by 23% in the next seven years, or by 587,000 practitioners. The BLS reports that nurses earn an average of $57,820 per year. Licensed practical nurses or vocational nurses are also expected to increase by 14% or 105,000 to meet the demands of health care. Labor market experts report that health care employment will continue to grow, but not in a uniform manner. Substantial growth is also expected to occur in other less training-intense positions, such as medical assistants and pharmacy technicians.


Licensed practical nurses, vocational nurses, and even medical assistants and pharmacy technicians will likely be supervised by or at least interact with our nurse graduates. Nursing faculty must continue to emphasize the delegation and supervisory skills our students will need to effectively work with a variety of health care personnel.


Source: Gerencher K. January 20, 2009. Vital signs: Health-care jobs brighten bleak labor-market picture Hiring still hot - but pay, benefits, qualifications won't suit some job seekers. Market Watch: The Wall Street Journal Digital Network. Available at:{8B43FD64-74A0-4C85-A08E-0. Accessed on January 21, 2009.




1. AACN. December 3, 2008. Enrollment Growth in U.S. Nursing Colleges and Universities Hits an 8-Year Low According to New Data Released by AACN: A Minimal 2% Growth in the Baccalaureate Student Population May Signal that Schools Have Reached Enrollment Capacity. Available at Accessed January 22, 2008. [Context Link]