Just a few years ago, it seemed as though everyone was predicting a boom in nurse hiring. A distinct nurse shortage all over the country was leading to worker protests, significant staffing shortages at hospitals, and an industry fully believing nurses were on the verge of writing their own tickets.
Unfortunately, most of those predictions did not materialize. Yes, there still is a shortage of nurses and not enough bodies to fill open positions. However, the great divide between supply and demand never got as big as it was projected to get. Why? Because a souring economy resulted in many nurses delaying retirement plans.
Now a combination of two factors suggests the nursing profession might be ready to begin expanding again. If these two factors work together as some believe they will, nurse hiring may be ready to pick up by the first quarter of next year.
The U.S. is currently on the cusp of the first wave of large-scale baby boomer retirements. As these workers enter the ranks of the no longer working, one of the natural results will be a greater need for healthcare delivery. Retirees already account for the majority of healthcare access, and adding a wave of baby boomers will only make that reality more pronounced.
Since 2010 the U.S. Bureau of Labor and statistics has been projecting increases in nurse hiring due to the aging population. Now we should start seeing those projections come to fruition. Even more so since the full implementation of healthcare reform will give more seniors and retirees access to health care.
The other component is one few people are talking about: the rise of independent ambulatory care. This type of care has remained relatively static over the last several decades, as hospitals were able to provide most of what was needed. However, ambulatory care centers are beginning to crop up in major cities and mid-sized towns to provide services overwhelmed hospitals can no longer offer.
All of these centers obviously need qualified and experienced nurses to staff them. Nevertheless, stealing nurses from hospitals will never provide enough workers to fill those positions. Nurses will be needed at both types of facilities to accommodate the influx of new patients. That means ambulatory care centers will be looking wherever they can to find staff.
The Potential for Recruiters
When nurse hiring does pick up again, it will give recruiters more tools for attracting the best nurses. As demand goes up, improvements will be seen in all areas, including compensation, perks, and overall working conditions. All of these can be used to attract great candidates.
For the independent recruiting agency, there is an added bonus: a greater number of clients looking to utilize their services. When staffing agencies are in higher demand, they are able to be more selective. This enables them to invite contracts that are better suited to their bottom line. Those capable of recruiting and hiring the best personnel will enjoy the greatest opportunity to win choice contracts.
Whether you are a nurse or a staffing agency, things appear to be picking up in nursing. It will be interesting to see where all of this leads in the early part of next year.