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AMN Healthcare—a recruiting organization engaged in hospital staffing services and workforce solutions—has released its biennial RN Survey of 19,967 nurses from locations around the country. While the outlook is not overwhelmingly negative, the findings depict a challenging road ahead for the healthcare industry.
Hard Times Ahead, but Educational Goals Remain Vital
With regard to the challenges nurses face, hard times lie ahead. In addition to the well-known shortage of labor, nurses are being stretched to the limit by overlong working hours. Further, many are working two jobs, and a slew (80%) of Baby Boomer generation RNs—who comprise the majority of all working nurses—plan to retire within the next five years.
However, nurses—especially younger ones—are in accord with the Institute of Medicine declaration that they “should receive higher levels of education and training.” While not quite meeting IOM’s call for doubling the number of nurses receiving Master of Science degrees by 2020, nurses are still very much invested in their further education.
For instance, 18% are currently enrolled in a higher education program. Most of that group is comprised of Millennials and Generation Xers, at 25% and 21% respectively. However, the number of nurses planning to embark upon a higher education program within the next three years has been steadily decreasing. This may be owing to the increasing number of hours the average nurse is working, and the growing number who have taken on second jobs.
Who’s Enrolled; Who’s Planning to Enroll
Unsurprisingly, Millennials are still at the forefront of those planning to enroll around 2022, with 34% saying they plan to pursue higher education within three years, joined by 22% of Gen X nurses. With Baby Boomer nurses preparing for retirement, the number of them making educational plans is understandably low.
The types of educational programs nurses take can vary. 46% of nurses currently enrolled are aiming at a master’s degree, while 33% of enrollees are working towards their Baccalaureate. Millennials are showing the greatest movement toward advanced practice and higher degrees, making up 46% of those enrolled in a master’s degree program, and 47% of those working toward a doctorate. Still, young nurses are very keen on professional development: 20% of all nurses say they intend to become advanced practitioners, and the majority of that number, 39%, again consists of Millennials.