About One-third of US Nurses Struggle to Find Work

    16 May, 2013

    From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report.

    About one-third of  new nursing graduates in the United States are having trouble finding work.

    Alexandra Bauernschub is finishing a Master's degree program at the University of Maryland. She has done well in the program, earning the highest Grade Point Average of GPA possible. But she is worried about finding a job in health care.

     "I've applied for 35 different jobs and, despite having a 4.0 GPA [very high grades], I have not received any jobs, so it's really concerning."

    Yet there is hope for nurses who completes studies at four-year schools or graduate level programs, they have an easier time finding a job in health care than nurses graduating from a two-year degree program.

    Experts say there are fewer job openings than usual now because nurses in their 50s and 60s are delaying retirement. These workers are hoping to rebuild the savings they lost a few years ago during the financial crisis.

    Jane Kirschling is head of the University of Maryland's nursing school.

    "This economic downturn has created this tension, in terms of people staying in the workforce, right at the same time we have been working hard to increase the number of graduates to meet that growing health care need."

    The number of students entering nursing school has risen sharply in recent years. At the same time, the United States is preparing for the retirement of millions of baby boomers, that is the name given to Americans born between the end of World War II and the early 1960s. Hundreds of thousands of nurses are expected to retire just as people their age need more medical care.

    Add to that, changes in health care laws and the demand for people to care for the sick and aged will grow even more. Health experts say if the economy improves, many older nurses will retire, which would create jobs for younger nurses and recent college graduates.

    David Auerbach has studies nursing employment for the Rand Corporation. He spoke to VOA on skype. He said a drop of one percentage point in the unemployment rate might open 30,000 nursing jobs. "Right now, it is right about 7.6%, if we go down to maybe 5.5%, that suggests about 60,000 RNs [registered nurses] kind of opening up those spots and retiring."

    And the University of Maryland's Jane Kirschling says nursing is a satisfying career with a bright future.

    "The opportunities are going to continue to be very, very strong. We are just sitting in this window of time where the economy has played out, the boomers staying in the workforce."

    And that's the Economics Report from VOA Learning English. You can read and download our reports online at 51voa.com. I'm Mario Ritter.