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Nebraska: Nursing Workforce Update

Career News September 9, 2013

This report offers a peek into the status of the nursing workforce in Nebraska. On a nationwide scale, the job outlook for nurses is promising, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, or BLS. They list the industry as growing at a “faster than normal” pace.

Nursing is a highly specialized field, so the most abundant opportunities fall to those with advanced degrees and experience in outpatient care. Between technological enhancements and managed healthcare, patients are leaving hospitals sooner and getting outpatient treatment. The changes in the healthcare system, that effect nursing, are the same in Nebraska.

The nation, as a whole, is experiencing a nursing shortage. In 2006, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing was predicting that the demand for nurses would exceed the supply in Nebraska. One report suggests the need for registered nurses in the state would top 20,000 in the next 15 years, but the supply would have only reached around 16,500, leaving a substantial gap.

Nationwide, BLS predicts there will be an increase of 700,000 nursing positions by the end of the decade. Some reasons that the demand are over running the supply in Nebraska include:

•Migration – The report from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing estimates 100 nurses a year move out of Nebraska. Younger nurses, who start a family just out of school, are relocating to other states. The remaining Nebraska nursing workforce is old and close to retirement.

•Higher Education – Advancements in educational opportunities are another possible culprit to the high demand. Base level nursing is giving way to highly specialized career choices such as neonatal care. Outpatient facilities, clinics and doctors’ offices need LPN and RN level nurses, not those with specialized degrees.

•Retirement is a third likely cause of the shortage. Five percent of Nebraskan nurses leave the work force at the age of sixty. Since the migration shows that younger nurses are exiting the state, retirement is a high factor in the dwindling nursing population.

Nebraska: Nursing Workforce and Future Needs at-a-glance

Licensed RNs in Nebraska: 19,170

Number of Licensed RNs working in 2011: 19,170

Age of RNs in Nebraska:

• 21% of licensed RNs in Nebraska are between 41 and 50 years old
• 27% of licensed RNs in Nebraska are between 51 and 60 years old
•10% of licensed RNs in Nebraska are between 61 and 70 years old
• 42% of Nebraska’s RNs are younger than 41 years old

Annual Mean Salary (2011): $56,480

Projected estimate of unfilled nursing jobs in 2020: 5,600 (This estimate translates into a definitive shortage of nurses in the near future.)

Is Nebraska among the Top 10 for highest nurse pay? No

Is Nebraska among the bottom 10 for nurses pay? No. In 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hourly rate for a Registered Nurse in Nebraska was $28.72.

Does Nebraska have an articulation agreement? If so, what kind?

Yes, according the American Association of the Colleges of Nursing, Nebraska offers an individual articulation agreement. This means each nursing program decides individually what credits will transfer for RNs who want to work towards education advanced degrees such as BSNs and MSNs. These agreements are generally accepted by all community colleges and public universities, and private institutions also have the option to participate.

Nebraska: Outlook for Nursing Jobs

The Nebraska Health and Human Services system have done extensive research for ways to encourage nurses to live and work within the state. One campaign works to encourage in-migration of a younger nursing workforce and discourage out-migration.

The goal is set to reduce the amount of nurses opting to move out of Nebraska by 10 percent while encouraging new graduates to take employment in the state. They hope to increase in-migration by as much as 10 percent in order to fill the gaps left by retiring nurses.

Studies by the Health system show that attempting to encourage nurses to retire at an older age is not as successful. Hopefully, by offering incentives to keep more nurses in the state and providing delayed retirement packages, the supply and demand for nurses will balance out and close the shortage gap by 2020.

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