Drastic changes have swept the healthcare industry since 2020 when COVID-19 hit the United States. While we’ve come a long way, it’s clear that industry will forever be changed. With the pandemic exposing significant gaps in the system and accelerating the nursing shortage, we’re seeing new nurse hiring trends emerge as healthcare facilities respond.
Read also: Why Nurses Are Striking + Quitting In Droves
“The healthcare industry in the United States is incredibly complex, which has made it stubbornly resistant to change,” says Amanda Cruse, Senior Managing Director of Tandym Health. “We have seen a major shift in recent years. To meet new demands, changes, and challenges, the industry has needed to evolve rapidly.”
This trickles down to every function across healthcare, but the nursing profession has been especially impacted. “New nurse hiring trends are driving new opportunities and creating new in-demand skillsets. For nurses, now is an excellent time to explore the job market to identify opportunities aligned with your career goals and personal needs, while ensuring you are keeping your skillset current and competitive with market trends,” says Amanda.
To help you navigate today’s healthcare job market, here are four nurse hiring trends to keep in mind.
It’s a candidate-driven market
Nursing shortages have been an ongoing issue, but nurse hiring has only gotten more challenging in recent years. “The number of nurses leaving the profession has increased due to high burnout and the large percentage of nurses reaching retirement age,” says Amanda. “In addition, the growing number of people needing care has increased. Because demand is so high, the nurse job market has become more candidate-driven.”
Job growth is on the rise + opportunities are diverse
A candidate-driven market means job growth is on the rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth rate for registered nurses through 2031 is 6%—which is as fast as the overall average for all occupations. However, the estimated growth rate for nurse practitioners is 40%, much faster than average.
This growth has translated to new opportunities across all settings and specialties. “This includes, hospitals, schools, and outpatient care facilities, but has more recently spread to community outreach, mental health, and long-term care settings,” says Amanda. “Medical organizations are now able to refocus on core services, and are hiring nurses in higher quantities as a result. At the same time, many nurses who were hesitant to work in certain settings during the pandemic, are becoming more open to returning.”
The demand for travel nurses and per diem staff will continue
Many medical facilities have turned to travel and per diem nurses to help fill gaps in staffing and ensure safe patient care. At the same time, these opportunities have become a popular option for a variety of providers. These contract or shorter-term assignments can hold a lot of benefits for nurses, including access to more opportunities, increased flexibility, and skills development. Read also: 5 Benefits Of Contract Healthcare Work
Job requirements are evolving
Amid the nursing shortage and advancements in technology, job requirements are constantly evolving. “On one hand, we’re seeing some facilities become more flexible on certain experience requirements. Others, are moving in the opposite direction—and are holding out for nurses with the right amount of specialty experience needed to hit the ground running.”
Since requirements can vary drastically by setting, it’s important to stay up-to-date with all the certification and skillsets required of your specialty area. Staying up-to-date with the latest tech, including EMRs used in your specialty area or setting, is another great way to stand out from your peers.
“While you should feel encouraged to apply to stretch opportunities, if you are not making progress in the application or interview process, listen closely to any feedback offered,” advises Amanda. “If it is because of your experience level, try to determine what you can do to help gain that experience. That could be keeping an open mind about other steppingstone opportunities, gaining a new certification, or taking a continuing education class.”