This article explores the status of the Louisiana nursing workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ (BLS), job prospects for nurses “should be excellent, even in hospitals” due to the high turnover rate at acute care facilities.
Even with 2.7 million Registered Nurses (RNs) already employed in the US in 2010, the job outlook is considered “very bright” according to ONetOnline, a partner of The American Job Center Network. Economists project a “much faster than average” 26% increase in job openings for RNs in the decade between 2010 and 2020.
Nursing specialties expected to experience greater than average growth include acute inpatient hospitals, doctors’ offices and home health care. Positions incorporated to providing care in outpatient surgical centers or outpatient treatment clinics are expected to have the highest rate of growth as the medical system attempts to control health care costs, while serving a larger population of aging Baby Boomers.
Nurses with educational advanced degrees and advanced licensure will have better job opportunities than those without such preparations. According to a CareerOneStop Occupational Profile for Nurses in Louisiana, in 2011, the state will generally follow the national trends.
Reasons for the Nursing Shortage
The United States is currently experiencing a nursing shortage. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics update, there will be 1.2 million job openings for registered nurses by 2020 and plans to produce a workforce of that magnitude become insufficient. According to the Louisiana State Board of Nursing Annual Report of 2011, some factors that have influenced the state’s nursing shortage include:
From 2010 to 2011, the state experienced a 17 percent “increase in the number of licensed RNs indicating some form of disability.” The State Board of Nursing Reports provides no explanation for this increase.
Family Obligations and/or Home Care
The state also experienced a 12 percent increase in nurses citing home and family responsibilities as their primary reasons for not seeking nursing employment.
Retirement & the Graying of the Workforce
Over 900 Louisiana RNs reported retirement in 2011, an increase of 21 percent from 2010. The average age of a Louisiana RN is 44 years old, compared to the national average of 47.
Nursing Faculty Attrition
There is a constant attrition to already too-small faculty sizes at most nursing schools. Louisiana reported a 200% increase in faculty who took leave from the previous year, a steady 47 resignations, a steady 18 retirements (compared to 19 in 2010), and 19 terminations. During this same period, the lowest number of graduates, one percent, entered the nursing education field.
Louisiana: Nursing Workforce and Future Needs At-a-Glance
Licensed RNs in Louisiana: 50,142
Louisiana Licensed RNs, Total: 57,788
Number of Licensed RNs Working in Louisiana in 2011: 37,157 FT; 6,488 PT; 1,178 Other
Average Age of RNs in Louisiana: 44 years old
• Age Distribution of Licensed RNs in Louisiana:
•< 30 12,435 (25%) •30-39 13,660 (27%) •40-49 11,122 (22%) •50-59 9,626 (19%) •>60 3,299 (7%)
Annual Mean Salary (2011): $64,190
Projected Demand for Nurses in 2018: 50,110, a 25% from 2008 (This estimate translates into a probable shortage of nurses in the near future.
Is Louisiana Among the Top 10 for Highest Nurse Pay? No
Is Louisiana Among the Bottom 10 for Nurses’ Pay? Yes, in 2011, the hourly rate for an RN in Louisiana was the 9th lowest rate at $17.50 per hour according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Does Louisiana Have an Articulation Agreement? If So, What Kind?
Yes. Louisiana has a statewide articulation agreement. According to this issue’s websites, “This plan was developed through a collaborative effort of nurse educators, regulators, legislators, and other stakeholders who want to enhance educational mobility for RNs to continue their education toward advanced degrees such as BSNs and MSNs. These agreements are generally accepted by all community colleges and public universities in a given state, although private institutions often choose to participate as well.”
Louisiana: Outlook for Nursing Jobs
Almost “50 percent of Louisiana’s RNs are prepared at the baccalaureate or higher degree level” according to the state’s page on the Future of Nursing Campaign website, a significant increase from previous levels. Faculty vacancies will need to be filled, at the state’s nursing schools, to meet staff nurse openings. However, the most marked progress in the state has involved advanced practice nursing. According to the Louisiana State Board of Nursing Report for 2011:
•Advanced Practice RNs practicing in the state has increased 30 percent since 2007;
•Nurse Practitioners licensed and living in the state have increased 55 percent between 2007 and 2011, with a 12 percent increase between 2010 and 2011
•Licensed Advanced Practice RNs with prescriptive authority increased 72 percent between 2007 and 2011, with a 14 percent increase between 2010 and 2011.