1. Gallo, Kathleen PhD, MBA, RN

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According to the Associated Press (2009) "The number of people receiving jobless benefits exceeded 6 million for the first time, and housing construction unexpectedly plunged to its second-lowest level on record-fresh evidence that the recession is far from over." We all know someone who has been laid off during this economic downturn, but ask yourself: "Are any of them RNs?" Not likely.


Nursing is an extraordinary profession which provides numerous opportunities for professional accomplishment and personal fulfillment. Nursing allows one to develop a career which includes many areas of expertise, provides educational opportunities as well as prospects for career advancement, and enables practitioners to learn sophisticated skill sets that can be applied to positions in other industries. While the work of nursing is both intellectually and physically challenging, the benefits are great. If there is one thing that the history of economic cycles has taught us, it is that nursing is recession-proof.


In general, unemployment rises and falls due to market conditions; normal markets reach equilibrium whereby supply equals demand. Currently, however, we are not experiencing "normal markets." As it relates to nursing, the demand for nursing services is outstripping the supply of nurses currently available, and it is clear that the demand for nurses will continue as baby boomers retire. This phenomenon not only increases the need for healthcare services, but also decreases the supply of nurses as we join the ranks of retirees. Other factors increasing nursing demand include pharmacologic and technological medical advances, and the increase in the populace living with chronic illness. Since nursing is central to the delivery of healthcare services, the profession will also be required to play a significant role in healthcare reform.


Unless there is a dramatic shift in the demand for RNs or transformational recruitment efforts take place, the supply of RNs will continue to fall short. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2009), the healthcare sector of the U.S. economy is continuing to grow despite rapidly rising unemployment in other industries, and the demand for RNs between 2006 and 2016 will reach 1 million open positions.


In addition to the traditional clinical positions that will continue to be available, there are many other professional roles that well-prepared RNs can assume. These include executive suite positions, including CEO; academic positions; research positions in various settings including the pharmaceutical industry; and other roles within Fortune 500 organizations, such as consultant, educator and as liaison to the healthcare industry. Nursing has many opportunities to contribute to this vast field known as healthcare. It is incumbent upon each and every one of us to take a proactive stance regarding our employability and continue to educate ourselves on an individual level.


It is not likely that there will be market equilibrium as it relates to nursing any time soon. The evidence is quite compelling. As other industries experience historical levels of unemployment, nursing has emerged as one of the top recession-proof professions. The current recession will end over time, and sometime in the future the next recession will appear. In order to maintain the top spot among recession-proof professions, strategic alignment with the new economy is essential.




Associated Press. (2009). Recession's grip tight on jobs, housing markets. Retrieved April 16, 2009, from[Context Link]


United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Employment Situation: March 2009. Retrieved April 16, 2009, from [Context Link]