Increase in nursing graduates adding to glut of applicants in field

Shortage of high paying nursing jobs

Published  7:04 PM HST May 07, 2013
HONOLULU -

"I was always interested pediatrics," said Rovelyn Hermoso.

Despite her passion, she knows she's entering the nursing world at a scary time.

"There are not a lot of positions out there right now. I know a couple of people who finished their degrees and can't get jobs in the field," she said.

"Sometimes supply and demand doesn’t perfectly align," said Deb Gardner, Executive Director for the Hawaii Center for Nursing.

She said there are some 17,000 registered nurses moving through the work force and about 650 new RNs graduating each year, but adds, they are new nurses without the experience employers are currently looking for.

She said a lot of new graduates are having to take lower paying jobs as nurses aids or in other fields, but she said within 6 months to a year, more jobs should open up.

After the closing of two hospitals in recent years, The Queens Medical Center's West Oahu Campus is expected to open in late 2014.

Gardner said facilities are holding off on hiring, for the time being, as they shift to new demands from the Affordable Health Care Act.

She has some advice for Hermoso: demand will be shifting toward less traditional RN roles, such as doing home visits, working in primary care clinics, or nursing homes.

"We will really be looking at what the community needs are," she said.

"I just hope positions open up in pediatrics," said Hermoso.

She said she'd consider working as a medical technician if jobs just don't open up, but she hopes even more, the two years she has to finish her degree will work to her advantage.

"It's kind of a holding pattern right now, and that's what happens when you make a big shift in a complex system, but we know we have to do it," said Gardner.

Gardner said another problem is with the economic downturn, many nurses decided to stay in the field a few years longer, but she expects that to change soon.

She recommends nursing graduates consider staying in school to get their masters or doctorate, because with a shortage of physicians in Hawaii and the shift in the type of care people want, Advance Practice Registered Nurses or APRNs will be critical to the future of health care.

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