The Recession's Effect on Hospital Registered Nurse Employment Growth

Peter I. Buerhaus PhD, RN, FAAN; David I. Auerbach PhD, MS


Nurs Econ. 2011;29(4):163-167. 

In This Article

Implications for Hospital Management

The uncertainties surrounding the national economic outlook for both the near and long term suggest that now is the time for hospital leaders to assess their RN workforce. While it is impossible to predict when a strong jobs recovery will begin, nevertheless, nursing executives and unit-level managers could gather data on the age distribution of RNs in each nursing unit, RNs' plans for retirement, and whether RN spouses are unemployed. Conducting such an assessment will provide information on which units may be most at risk of impending retirements once the overall job market recovers. Information could also be gathered to identify the major employers in the local economy and establish a strategy to monitor their economic performance. When key community employers begin to rehire their workforces, this may signal some RNs, whose spouses regain their jobs, to leave their nursing positions. Keeping an active watch on economic trends in the community may decrease hospitals' risk of being caught off guard by changes in the economy that affect RNs' decisions to participate in the nursing workforce.

Meanwhile, as relatively high unemployment rates continue to stimulate record high RN workforce participation, hospitals should not forgo the opportunity to induce low-performers to leave the organization, not only for reasons related to improving quality of care and promoting staff morale, but to create room for new RN graduates. Similarly, while so many veteran RNs are in the hospital workforce, hospitals may consider how they could serve as mentors to those newly entering the workforce.


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