The $2.8 trillion health care industry in the United States is so large that it’s practically an economy in itself. It is poised to grow – and change – dramatically over the next decade.
In fact, seven of the 10 fastest growing careers are in health care, with registered nurses (RNs) in especially high demand. The Labor Department projects the addition of about 440,000 new job openings for RNs through 2024, and nearly 700,000 retirements in the field. This makes earning a nursing degree a Lorain County Community College a good value and a sure bet.
It’s a bet that pays off. Nursing is among the best paid health care professions, with a relatively smaller education and training investment. In 2015, RN median pay stood at $67,490 per year, or $32.45 per hour. And LCCC’s low tuition rate makes investing in a nursing degree a smart choice for a rewarding career.
RNs are licensed by the state, but they typically also hold either an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing. Many begin with a two-year degree and work their way up the education and pay ladders while working in the field. LCCC offers allied health and nursing programs that range from nurse aides (STNA), to associate degree nursing (RN) to bachelor’s and master’s degree nursing programs through LCCC’s University Partnership. Graduates of LCCC’s RN program score among the highest passage rates on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), surpassing state and national passing rates.
Local hospitals and medical centers are in great need now for RNs – and the demand isn’t going away anytime soon, said Pat Schrull, LCCC’s nursing programs administrator.
The demand for new health care professionals is due to some obvious – and some maybe not-so-obvious – reasons.
First, and most obvious: A generational changing of the guard is underway. The Baby Boom population is aging and they need more healthcare services.
There are more Americans over the age of 65 than at any other time in US history, and by 2030, about one in five Americans, 69 million people, will be elderly. About 80 percent of this population has at least one chronic condition, according to the National Council on Aging.
A huge number of nurses is also riding this “gray tsunami” into retirement age themselves, creating enormous demand for replacements. About a third of the workforce, around one million RNs, is currently older than 50.
The American Nursing Association projects a whopping 1.2 million openings will emerge for RNs through 2022, and by 2025, Vanderbilt University researchers estimate the vacancies will be “more than twice as large as any nurse shortage experienced since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in the mid-1960s.”
Second: People are living longer and more active lives, so the kinds of healthcare services in demand are changing. Physical therapists and nurses will play a big role in the next decade.
Preventive care is putting nurses on the frontline, as people become more educated about living healthier lives. Obesity and diabetes are expected to be as much a focus of preventive care as they are of treatment in the coming years.
Third: Technology is revolutionizing, and personalizing, treatment. In 2016, millions of Americans will have had their first video health consultation, according to consulting firm PwC’s Health Research Institute. Millions more will be prescribed their first health apps on smartphones.
This shift means “care will begin to move into the palms of consumers’ hands, providing care anywhere, anytime,” and nurses will “work in new ways, incorporating insights gleaned from data analysis” into patient care.
All of these factors combine to make this a great time to pursue a career in nursing and health care, Schrull said. LCCC programs prepare students to become certified by state licensing boards.
“Once our students pass their board exams, the employment rate is 100 percent,” Schrull said.
Most students are hired locally at organizations like Mercy Regional Medical Center. Cheryl Rieves, Chief Nursing Executive, Lorain Region, Mercy Regional Medical Center and Mercy Allen Hospital, said LCCC student graduate ready to tackle the challenges that nursing can bring.
“We always strive to hire the most qualified candidates for all open positions. We find the LCCC graduates demonstrate the skills, knowledge and work ethic we are looking for,” Rieves said.
LCCC nursing students often have clinical rotations at Mercy, giving students a chance to explore specialty areas before they apply for jobs. Once hired, new nurses begin an orientation process and a 12-month nurse residency program, she said. There is also tuition reimbursement available for nurses who wish to continue their education to earn bachelor’s or master’s degrees.
“Many of the nurses who have graduated from LCCC are top-performers in our organization. They possess not only strong clinical skills but are service-oriented and embrace diversity and change,” Rieves said.
Learn more about LCCC’s nursing programs at www.lorainccc.edu/nursing.