Whether you are thinking about pursuing a career in nursing, are already working toward a nursing degree or already in the profession, chances are you’ve heard something about our country’s nursing shortage.
At a time when finding a job is tougher than ever, the nursing field is still in high demand, along with several other healthcare professions. In the next decade, that high demand is expected to continue to rise due to our country’s nursing shortage.
The term “nursing shortage” refers to the shortfalls in desired nurse-to-patient and nurse-to-population ratios as well as what students are probably most concerned with — the number of job openings in the nursing field compared to the number of nursing workforce. For students as well as nurses currently in the field, it’s important to understand the causes and effects of the nursing shortage in order to understand the challenges and opportunities nurses face in the next decade.
What the "Experts" are Saying
While many experts say the nursing shortage has eased recently, they also tend to agree that a far greater nursing shortage looms in the near future like a balloon waiting to pop. That is because the baby boomer population continues age, while at the same time much of the nursing workforce plans to retire.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, more than half of nurses surveyed in a 2006 study said they planned to retire before 2020. At the same time, many baby boomers will have already reached their 70s, placing a heavy demand on the healthcare system.
Bloomberg.com published an article earlier this year questioning the current state of the nursing shortage. However, the article agreed that a bigger nursing shortage was on the horizon around 2020. According to Bloomberg, the poor economy has prompted many nurses to hold onto their jobs rather than retire. That stat leads many experts to believe that as the economy recovers, large numbers of nurses will take their overdue retirements. This will take a large bite out of the number of nurses in the workforce, while also leaving large gaps in nursing experience and leadership.
The forecasted shortage presents some big challenges for the nursing field. However, it also presents some great opportunities for nurses not only to find jobs, but to move up into leadership roles sooner in their careers. Nurses’ roles are expanding as the healthcare system also faces a similar shortage of doctors. Those new roles, combined with the need for experience and leadership, are at the heart of the increased demand for nurses with bachelor’s and advanced degrees.
Success at NMC
Our growth at Nebraska Methodist College has reflected the increased demand for nurses, as well as the demand for nurses with advanced degrees. In the last five years, we’ve seen a 52 percent increase in our student population, which is now near 1,000 students, and growth coming in a number of areas. More importantly, our students are finding jobs soon after they graduate. At NMC, 98 percent of our students find a job within six months of graduation — a telling statistic about the need for skilled nurses.
Chelsea Smith of Papillion, Neb., is a junior at Nebraska Methodist College pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN). Chelsea took a few moments this week to share about her experience at NMC, her passion for helping others and her advice for prospective students.
What do you want to do with your degree and why did you choose that career path?
I am not exactly sure which field of nursing I want to get into, but that is the beauty of this career path. Nursing provides endless opportunities that can accommodate each individual’s specific interests. This is one of the many reasons I chose this career.
Another reason is the fact that I've always known that, no matter what major I decided upon, I wanted to be able to help people, and I know now that nursing allows me to do just that.
How did you learn about Nebraska Methodist College, and why did you choose to go to school here?
I learned about Nebraska Methodist College through a college seminar provided by my high school. I had toured other nursing schools and none of them had really made me feel "at home" yet.
When I arrived at NMC for my campus tour, I instantly felt like I belonged because of the energetic and helpful staff. I was also impressed by the modern design of the college — everything looked new and updated compared to the other colleges I had visited. After receiving my tour and packets full of helpful information on how to apply and where to start, there was no doubt in my mind that Nebraska Methodist College was right for me.
What makes NMC unique, and what would you recommend about NMC to others?
NMC is unique in several ways. It is a rather small school, now educating around 1,000 students. This small community gives the college a sense of belonging and family. All the staff members know who you are and are all there to help you succeed. At NMC you are a name, not a number. Due to the small classroom size it makes for an easy transition from high school, and really allows for the students to get to know their instructors. In clinical, the student to teacher ratio is eight to one, which really forms a close group and enables students to participate in a variety of hands on experiences.
Another great aspect of NMC is the student involvement. As the student body, we are the ones who get to make the changes around our school. We all have a voice when it comes to changing our school for the better. This allows students to be creative and see their ideas become a reality.
I would recommend this school to any student wanting to become part of the healthcare world. Everyone who attends NMC is studying to become a part of healthcare as well, so it is really great to be surrounded by people who understand the hard work you are doing and what you are trying to become.
What advice do you have to offer prospective students about college?
My biggest advice to prospective students is to plan ahead. It is so important to prepare yourself for the next chapter of your life. Filling out applications and scholarships as early as possible will help lessen your anxiety and make your transition into college a way smoother process.
Prospective students should also never fear to ask questions or ask for help, because planning their future and the classes they are going to take can sometimes be confusing. Embracing new experiences is also a great piece of advice. College is full of new and exciting opportunities, and the more you learn to participate and enjoy them, the better your experience will be.
Nebraska Methodist College graduates enter the workforce full of knowledge, compassion and prepared to make a difference. We've always known that but we continue to receive reminders of just how great they are. See what some of them have been up to...
Danielle was recognized as the 2012 Respiratory Therapist of the Year from Children's Hospital and Medical Center. She was awarded the honor because she is hard-working, and compassionate, providing excellent care for her patients and their families. Danielle graduated from the NMC Respiratory Care program in 2010 and currently works as a respiratory therapist at Children's Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, NE. This was the second year an NMC graduate received this honor as Kahli Ladd (Class of 2009) was honored as the 2011 Respiratory Therapist of the Year.
Melanie, a sonographer in the Ultrasound Department at Methodist Hospital, was recognized as the November Methodist Hospital Employee of the Month. She is described as a being knowledgeable, helpful, caring and respectful in all she does. Melanie graduated from the NMC Sonography program in 2000 and has been an employee at Methodist Health System for more than 11 years.
Katie received the Rising Star Award at the 2012 March of Dimes Excellence in Nursing banquet. She was one of a few nurses across all specialties recognized for her tireless work to provide care, comfort and support to patients in our community. Katie graduated with her BSN in 2007 and was nominated by Children's Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, NE but now serves as a full time instructor at Nebraska Methodist College.
Lori was awarded the Shining Star Award from Bergen Mercy Medical Center in November 2012. The Shining Star Award recognizes an employee quarterly for the exemplary performance and compassion toward patients. Lori graduated with her BSN in December 2010 and is a postpartum nurse at Bergen Mercy Medical Center in Omaha, NE.
If you or know of an alum that has recently received an award or is doing great things in the community, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Service-learning is a valuable and rewarding part of the education that students receive at Nebraska Methodist College. Simply put, service-learning is learning while serving your community. It’s about helping others in need while gaining important experience for a future job or career.
That’s exactly the idea behind NMC’s service-learning opportunities. NMC offers several service-learning opportunities through outreach to local immigrant and refugee populations, regional Native American tribes, and area elderly. NMC also partners with several community organizations, which are hubs of service-learning opportunities for students.
Last week, we took a look at the experiences of a group of students who traveled to the Rosebud Indian Reservation for NMC’s Rosebud Service Immersion. The trip, one of multiple service immersions throughout the year, is a prime example of service-learning.
Students worked in several settings where their career could potentially take them, including hospital and outpatient settings, ambulance calls, a local women’s shelter, and an alcohol and substance abuse recovery ranch for youth. While gaining that valuable experience, they offered their skills to people in need. The trip also gives students a chance to broaden their horizons by working with people from another culture and different economic background.
Another excellent example of service-learning takes place in NMC’s accelerated nursing program. Students provide health education and screenings to Omaha-area immigrants and refugees at the Mexican Consulate, the Somali Bantu Center, the International Center of the Heartland and for World Refugee Day. Just like students who attend the Rosebud Service Immersion, the accelerated nursing students get a chance to practice their skills while learning about people from other cultures.
Among other service-learning partnerships, NMC’s community partnerships with Cosmopolitan International and Omaha Housing Authority stand out. NMC partners with Cosmopolitan International for the Mobile Diabetes Center. Through the Mobile Diabetes Center, NMC students provide diabetes screenings and education in a wide variety of community settings. Through NMC’s partnership with the Omaha Housing Authority, students provide health screening and education for older adults in public housing.
Service-learning is a win-win in providing help to those in the community who are in need, while building skills and experience in the healthcare professionals of tomorrow.
For more information about NMC’s service-learning opportunities, visit our Community-Based Learning page.