Nursing is one of the fastest-growing career fields, and with no sign of industry growth slowing down, that means there are many opportunities to advance and grow your career. Within the next 10 years, nursing careers are only going to increase due to a combination of an aging population and financial factors, meaning there will be no shortage of nursing jobs.
If you’re looking to enter the industry and curious about what your path could be over the next 10 years, here’s what you should know about the nursing job outlook for the next decade.
Projected Growth in Nursing Careers
The amount of registered nursing jobs is increasing faster than nursing programs are putting out new nurses. The employment rate of RNs has a projected growth of 12% from 2018 to 2028, increasing from 3,059,800 to 3,431,300 jobs.
In the next decade, it’s estimated there will be nearly half a million new nursing jobs, increasing the national employment workflow by a tenth. There will be an average of 210,400 job openings projected for RNs each year.
What Are the Reasons for Nursing Growth?
What’s leading to this increase in demand? Well, there are a lot of factors, but the most common forces driving the growth are the following:
- An aging population: One of the biggest reasons there will be such a steep increase in nursing jobs is that baby boomers are getting older. Baby boomers make up nearly 20% of the American public. The generation born after World War II between 1946 and 1964, this population is entering their 60s, 70s, and 80s. As an entire generation ages, more nurses will be needed to take care of them.
- Retiring: The large generation of baby boomers aging means not only an increase in medical care but in job availability. With such a large population of people hitting retirement age in the same span of time, that means there will be a larger gap of open nursing positions that need to be filled as older nurses start to retire. All these new openings will be in addition to the ones that are added because of the growth in the industry.
- Increased chronic conditions: There’s been a growing trend of increased chronic conditions over the last few years that will continue into the next decade. As medicine gets more advanced, chronic illnesses that were once untreatable or had few treatment options start to become more commonly lived with and for longer than before. Nurses will need to be trained and educated on how to treat conditions like arthritis, dementia, diabetes, and obesity, which will affect their patients for their entire lives.
Areas of Growth in the Nursing Industry
A reality of the current health care system is the tremendous financial pressure on hospitals to discharge patients as soon as possible. Not only does decreasing hospital stays help improve how quickly patients can recover since they’re able to recover in a familiar environment at home, but the more admissions a hospital has, the more potential for profit.
Such a large overhead cost to operate a hospital and the presence of insurance agencies can incentivize hospitals to have as many patients in and out as possible. Most of the time, these patients require additional care. Some can’t even return home immediately.
With an entire population aging and a hospital system focused on faster turnarounds, many of these new nursing opportunities will be less centralized in hospitals and more easily found in the following locations:
- Outpatient care centers: When a patient doesn’t need to be hospitalized or need overnight care for treatment, they go to an outpatient care center. These can be doctor’s offices, clinics, or departments in hospitals that offer same-day care.
- Long-term care facilities: Patients who need extra help with activities of daily living for weeks to months or who are going through rehabilitation while they recover from an illness stay at long-term care facilities. Their time at these medical centers is not permanent, and they don’t require the level of attention and commitment you’d find at non-specialized hospitals, but they’re not quite ready to go home yet.
- Residential care facilities: Residential care facilities are the type of long-term care facility where residents go to live as their new home. Those who live in these facilities may not have a medical condition and may just be older and wanting to live in a retirement community. Or they aren’t quite able to do all activities of daily living for themselves and need the amenities that nursing staff can provide.
- At-home care: Home health care is a service that sends nursing staff to care for patients in their own homes. These patients may not be well enough to be moved to a medical center, or they may be able to live with others and just need physical, occupational, or speech therapy or temporary home health aide services.
RN Salary Outlook
As the need for more nurses continues to just increase over the next decade, we’ll start to see salaries fluctuating for different specialties. Currently, the median salary of RNs is $71,730 with the top 10% of RNs earning $106,530 annually.
The top nursing industries and their median annual wages are:
- Government: $78,390
- Hospitals: $73,650
- Ambulatory healthcare services: $68,320
- Nursing and residential care facilities: $63,990
- Educational services: $61,850
The states with the highest employment rate of RNs are California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania with rates expected to increase in the next 10 years.
Tech Trends in Nursing
The medical field is always looking for new and better ways to treat patients, make a health care professional’s life easier, and help the industry as a whole be safer and more efficient. With that in mind, over the next 10 years, we’ll be seeing many advances in technology that will positively benefit patient care and increase productivity.
One of the major ones already being implemented is medical apps and the rising use of telemedicine. Patients can easily connect with doctors and nurses through apps on their phones. These same apps can also often give patients a better understanding of their illnesses and treatments.
Other technologies include smart beds and wearable devices that track movement, weight, sleep cycles, heart rates, and other vital information. Hospitals and medical centers have also mostly moved towards using electronic health records over paper filing systems. This makes patient files more accessible, easier to file, and updates can be made in real-time.
With all this new technology and the ease of access and availability, patients are more likely to seek out health care more often. That also means more nurses will be needed to keep up with the demand. And there’s never been a better, more exciting time to start a career in nursing.