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The 8 Best States to Be a Nurse

Nursing is one of the few industries that doesn’t falter during recessionary periods. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 26 percent increase in nursing employment between 2010 and 2020 – 12 percent higher than the average growth rate for all occupations. As a result of the rising need for professionals in the medical field, nurses are in the unique position of being able to compare jobs and choose nursing career opportunities based on geographical characteristics. This article highlights eight of the best growth markets to pursue a nursing career

1. California

California is the third largest state in the country – making its population one of the largest as well. With an increase in the aging population, more nurses are in demand and will continue to be needed in the future. Currently, there is a nursing shortage in California, which resulted in California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announcing the California Nurse Education Initiative. This initiative provides $90 million dollars in funding over five years through a public-private partnership to reduce California’s nursing shortage. As a result, there is a plethora of opportunities for nurses in California, making it an attractive place for career advancement.

2. Florida

Florida has been greatly affected by the aging generation of baby boomers. With over 3 million residents over the age of 65, Florida is also in need of nurses to care for the aging population. A survey by the Florida Center for Nursing discovered that the state will face a shortage of more than 15,000 nurses in 2012 alone. By 2025, that shortage is expected to grow to more than 50,000 nurses, creating demand for health care professionals. Additionally, the cost of living in Florida is 4 percent less than the national average, which makes this state a desired location for those pursuing RN to BSN degrees

3. New York

New York State is also currently experiencing a shortage of nurses. There is much advocacy surrounding the need for state funding of nursing and continuing education programs in New York to address the shortage. Additionally, the state has put together a task force on the future of nursing. Although the cost of living in certain parts of New York is higher than other parts of the country, the diverse culture and opportunities of the state meet the needs of city-dwellers and suburbanites alike.

4. Ohio

Data from the Ohio Hospital Association points to a statewide nursing shortage. According to the workforce factsheet, “many health care settings, not just hospitals, have a demand for RNs.” The factsheet goes on to state, “the aging baby boomer population will soon require more care, drastically increasing the RN shortages being felt by all providers unless more measures are taken to increase the number of RNs.” Due to the shortage of RNs in hospitals and other health care facilities, there are a variety of job options available. Moreover, the cost of living in Ohio is less than the U.S. average, making the state a fiscally responsible place to live. With nursing jobs available and the cost of living low, Ohio is a hot growth market.

5. Pennsylvania

In 2004, Pennsylvania government created the Pennsylvania Center for Health Careers to address the substantial need for health care workers. In 2010, the Center was made a permanent entity that works to address both short and long-term workforce challenges in the health care industry. This includes strengthening the nursing education system, retaining health care workers, and responding to the demand for health care workers. By encouraging employers to take care of health care professionals through wellness programs and benefits, Pennsylvania is a highly sought after market for nursing professionals.

6. Hawaii

Believe it or not, Hawaii has more to offer nurses than just beautiful weather and picturesque scenery. Hawaii’s nursing shortage poses real problems for its residents with only one registered nurse for every 90 people. This puts the quality of Hawaii’s health care population at risk and creates a demand for nursing professionals. Overall, the unemployment rate in Hawaii dropped to 5.7 percent in September 2012, which is much lower than the national average of 7.8 percent.

7. Oregon

Like Pennsylvania, the state government of Oregon is putting in effort to improve working conditions for health care professionals. The Health Care Workforce Committee is commissioned to recruit and educate health care professionals for the state. The committee also works to retain a quality workforce that meets health care demands by identifying resources, needs, supply gaps and more. With the committee working with the health care industry’s welfare in mind, Oregon is a state that takes care of their nurses. Currently, certain health care sectors are undergoing a nursing shortage in Oregon. This year, shortages were reported in public health, long-term care, home health, hospices and nurse education programs.

8. Massachusetts

Not only is Massachusetts the bastion for early American history, the state offers a bright future for nurses looking for employment. In 2011, the nursing shortage in Massachusetts worsened and hasn’t picked up in 2012. The unemployment rate is steady at 6.3 percent, which illustrates stability in Massachusetts’ economy compared to other states in the nation. Though the cost of living is higher than the U.S. average, education in Massachusetts is ranked number one in the country. With the graduation rate at 83.4 percent in 2011 and 60 percent of children enrolled in preschool from 2006 to 2011, Massachusetts is a great place to start a family and pursue a career.

With most of these states in the midst of a nursing shortage, there are jobs available for new and experienced nurses in a variety of health care sectors. From a steady economy and low unemployment rate to beautiful scenery or great education programs – each of these states has something unique to offer present and prospective nurses looking for opportunities.