KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Nursing Jobs No Longer Recession-Proof

"A few years ago, hospitals were offering nurses $10,000 signing bonuses, loan payoffs, even cars as incentives to battle a nursing shortage in Texas. Today, some nursing school graduates say they're fortunate to find a job," The Star-Telegram reports. "Three years ago there were three job offers for every graduate, said Dr. Pamela Frable, director of nursing at Texas Christian University's Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences. But at graduation last summer, there were more students without a job than ever before. A surge of applicants from nursing schools and from other states, as well as more older nurses coming back into the work force, has increased competition for jobs, especially at the area's large hospitals." Adding to the surge of new nursing candidates are "[e]xperienced nurses from other states that have been hard hit by the recession" (Jarvis, 1/30).

The Philadelphia Inquirer profiles an airline employee who went to nursing school when the job market was strong but struggled to find a job when he graduated. "Over and over again, hospitals told him they were not hiring. He wanted to work for a hospice, but he was told he could not until he had worked in a hospital. … Nursing educators worry that potential students will hear that the job market is tight now and stay away. 'What I'm concerned about, and what I think every American should be concerned about, is this is just a blip,' said Mary Ellen Glasgow, associate dean for nursing at Drexel. She believes that the current hiring woes 'are very short-term' and that a 'major shortage' is still on the way. 'That's what we need to impress upon the public'" (Burling, 1/31).

Earlier related KHN story: Nurses, Once In High Demand, Now Face Job Shortages (Linden and Suran, 8/28/09)

Meanwhile, the St. Petersburg Times reports on the poor job prospects for Americans attending Caribbean medical schools. "Oversight of offshore schools by U.S. regulators is minimal to nonexistent. Promises made over the Internet can evaporate once students arrive in a foreign country, leaving them with little recourse. Credits earned at such schools often can't be transferred. And guarantees of training slots in U.S. hospitals - key to getting a physician's license in the States - can prove illusory as fast-growing schools accept more students than they can ever place." The Times cites one school where the "Web site lists the name of 56 graduates who reportedly passed all their U.S. medical licensing exams, out of hundreds of enrollees over the years" (Hundley, 2/1).

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