New graduates and other candidates for nursing jobs can expect 2017 to be a great year — the healthcare industry is growing and there are not enough nurses to meet the current demand. Many healthcare employment markets have largely recovered from the Great Recession slowdown that reduced the hiring of new nursing grads several years ago. Now, demand is picking up for nurses and new graduates can help solve nursing shortages. Graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) are well-prepared for many of the new nursing jobs and many employers are striving to increase the number of BSN-prepared nurses they employ. In Nevada, where there are too few nurses for the number of residents, the state government and other groups are trying to encourage more people to choose nursing as a career.

National Nursing Shortage Continues

With an aging U.S. population and many experienced nurses seeking retirement, there is a shortage of qualified nurses. The Baby Boomer generation is beginning to reach retirement age in large numbers. Many Baby Boomer nurses may decide to retire in the upcoming decade, creating job openings for new nurses. More Americans are living longer and healthier lives, too, increasing the demand for healthcare services that help people feel their best and stay active. In addition to these reasons, more healthcare organizations and health districts are emphasizing the importance of high quality preventive care, chronic condition management, and increased access to primary care.

As a result of these trends, many positions are already available for new nurses. In the coming years, even more jobs are expected to open up for nursing graduates. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for RNs is expected to grow 16 percent per year between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also says this growth rate is “much faster than average” when compared with other jobs.

BSN Education Important for RNs

Nurses with a BSN are better prepared for the new nursing jobs, since many employers have a goal of increasing the proportion of new hires who hold BSNs. BSN-educated nurses may help reduce patient mortality and readmission rates, so many hospitals and other organizations are advocating for additional nursing education. New nurses who earn BSN degrees may have significant advantages in finding the better entry-level jobs. According to an August 2016 survey by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), 97.9 percent of employers prefer hiring nurses who have BSNs and 54 percent require BSN degrees as a minimum qualification. Higher education can help you stand out and receive better job offers.

Nevada’s Nursing Shortage

In Nevada, a shortage of nurses and other healthcare professionals forces some employers to stretch their workforces. Some employers, such as hospitals and nursing schools, leave vacancies open for extended periods of time as they await qualified applicants. More nurses are needed, particularly in the rural counties and regions of Nevada. Over the past decade, more RNs began working in Nevada, partially alleviating the shortage but not eliminating it. The proportion of nurses to Nevada residents is growing but still lags behind that in many other states. Increased emphasis on nursing education, training, and recruitment is needed to bring the state up to par with nursing workforces in other states.

Nevada’s nursing workforce still has a long way to go. In 2012, the state ranked 49th in the nation for employed nurses per capita, although Nevada was 50th in 2000, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). With many nurses expected to retire as the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age, these rankings suggest that Nevada still urgently needs more nurses. Nursing faculty are needed, too. An AACN report noted that the average age of a Nevada nursing faculty member was 51 in 2015. Right now, many schools are already experiencing faculty shortages. In the coming years, many existing faculty members may consider retirement. Without qualified nursing instructors and professors, some schools may have little choice but to restrict new applicants, potentially making nursing shortages even worse.

Nursing is still a growing field and many areas around the country are experiencing shortages of qualified applicants for nursing jobs. Graduates with a BSN degree have strong preparation for the new jobs becoming available as the healthcare industry expands, additional acute healthcare is needed, and experienced nurses retire from the workforce. In Nevada, relatively few nurses are in the workforce and the ratio of nurses to residents is below average for the U.S. In 2017, nursing is expected to continue growing as an occupation and employers may look for BSN graduates to fill open positions. Inside the state and around the country, many healthcare employers will be looking for more nurses this year. This may create stronger opportunities for recent nursing graduates.

Learn more about the Nevada State RN to BSN online program.


The U.S. Health Workforce — State Profiles: Nevada

American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Nevada Nursing Education at a Glance, Fall 2015

WGEM: Nursing Shortage Impacts Local Hospital

Nevada Business: Industry Focus: Healthcare

American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Employment of New Nurse Graduates and Employer Preferences for Baccalaureate-Prepared Nurses

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Health-Care ‘Have-Nots’: Nevada’s Rural Residents Face Fraying Safety Net

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Registered Nurses

The Atlantic: The U.S. Is Running Out of Nurses