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Aug 17, 2021 12:34 PM EDT

What the 2021 Nursing Shortage Means for Recent Graduates

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Nursing Shortage of 2021 Sets Table for Healthcare Innovations

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With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continuing to strain healthcare systems around the world, demand for registered nurses has reached an all-time high. Between skyrocketing burnout rates and an existing nursing shortage, hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities are doing everything possible to staff enough RNs to adequately treat patients.

Many nursing school students - particularly those on the cusp of graduation - feel nervous about the road ahead. While they have good reason to be intimidated, other factors in play make the situation better than it appears. As it turns out, 2021 may be the best time to start a nursing career.

With this in mind, let's take a look at what the nursing shortage of 2021 means for recent nursing school graduates or those set to graduate within the next six months:

Guaranteed employment

Many people face an uphill battle finding employment after graduation. That's not the case for nursing school graduates. Due to the nursing shortage, RNs get put to work as soon as they pass their background checks. That sure beats six months of sending out resumes and hoping to land an interview.

Immediate experience

First-year employees - especially those in specialized positions like nursing - are usually given limited capacity responsibilities and duties. But given the shortage of nurses and the seriousness of the pandemic, recent nursing school graduates are thrust right into the action. That means more direct hands-on experience in the field, setting them up for faster career advancement going forward.

Competitive pay

With only a limited number of registered nurses available for hire, hospitals are offering higher and higher wages. That's excellent news for recently graduated nursing students, who should have no problem shopping around for the best offer. Starting your career earning $80,000 instead of $60,000 means potentially earning hundreds of thousands more over the course of your career.

Better benefits

Another thing hospitals and other medical facilities are doing to recruit RNs is to expand and improve their benefits package. From more paid time off to better health insurance to free housekeeping services, RNs finding work in 2021 should have no problem finding great benefits to go along with the job.

More options

Did you grow up on a farm with dreams of the big city, or raised in the hustle and bustle with hopes of moving someplace quiet? If so, becoming a registered nurse allows you the freedom to live wherever you want. That's because virtually every major city and small town has at least one hospital looking for nurses. In fact, there's an entire subcategory of RNs known as traveling nurses. As the name implies, they travel around the country, going to hospitals that need them most before moving on to the next one.

Hero status

As a registered nurse, chances are you're not looking to be a hero. You're just looking for a way to help others and making a living in the process. With that said, recent events led to newfound admiration and respect for frontline workers. People see medical experts, especially RNs, as the heroes of the pandemic. While you didn't ask to be a hero, friends and family see you as one. Since the admiration and respect of your peers is a strong motivator in life, hero status is what gets us out of bed on days we want to hide, providing a net benefit overall.

While the pandemic will eventually go away, demand for nurses will remain for years to come. A shortage of nurses is bad for the healthcare system, but it's good for men and women working as RNs. They're set to get paid well and treated fairly for the foreseeable future.

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