By: Jennifer Thew, Former National Nurse Editor at Nurse.com
Back in my day (ok, so it was 1994, but that was last century so it counts), I walked to nursing school in the snow, uphill, both ways. Ok, Oshkosh, Wis., is pretty flat. But the snow, there was lots and lots of it. There was also a nursing shortage starting to brew.
When I started in the nursing program at the University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh, my classmates and I were worried. Friends who had graduated a year or two before us were having troubling finding jobs. I can still remember one of my professors reassuring us that in two years, when we graduated, there was going to be a nursing shortage. And was she ever right.
By the time I graduated in 1998, nurses were in huge demand. It got to the point where a new grad could go directly into a specialty like Labor and Delivery or Intensive Care.
But those days are behind us and once again, new grads are struggling to find jobs. At Nurse.com, we’ve heard from many new grads disheartened by the current situation. I understand completely. I remember how my friends felt a decade-and-a-half ago. Man, do I feel old writing that.
The good news is the nursing shortage will eventually be back and nursing jobs will be plentiful. In our Sept. 10 article on the nursing job market, we talk to workforce analysts who say exactly that. Peter I. Buerhaus, RN, PhD, FAAN, of Vanderbilt University puts it this way, “There’s a pile of demand coming at us.”
That’s great news for all the job seekers out there. Ready for the bad news? The nursing shortage will eventually be back. Take it from someone who worked through the last one, being in demand isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Back in my day we worked short-staffed. We worked mandatory overtime. We were thrown into situations we had no business being in like being the most experienced nurse on the shift when you had only been a nurse for six months. It wasn’t pretty.
And we did it all while going uphill, both ways in the snow. Ok, Chicago, where I worked, is also pretty flat. But the snow! My first year on the job we experience a blizzard and one of the evening shift nurses hitched a ride on a snowplow to get to work. But that’s a story for another day.