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Chicago Nurse Jobs Hard to Find

Posted on August 17, 2009

Even though healthcare has long been considered a recession-proof industry, those looking for Chicago nurse jobs are finding that might not necessarily be the case.

It seems that many recent graduates are having trouble finding nursing jobs at any of the medical centers in the Chicago area.

“We are definitely seeing a decrease in openings for new grads,” Vicki Keough, acting dean of Loyola University Chicago‘s Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

It seems the shortage of job openings isn’t only affecting Chicago. Although the American Association of Colleges of Nursing hasn’t done any surveys to measure the impact of the economy on nurse hiring, the group has said it has heard reports from around the country that this year’s graduates have had a harder time than usual finding jobs.

The nursing job shortage is especially hard for graduates looking for jobs in bigger cities. Because of this, colleges are telling nursing students to start looking for work earlier and consider taking jobs in smaller towns if they can’t find work in the bigger cities of their choice.

Part of the reason that the nursing industry has gone from having a shortage of nurses to having a shortage of open positions is that many older nurses are putting off retirement or returning to work, while others who previously worked part-time have turned to full-time positions.

On top of that, hospitals haven’t been hiring as many new nurses and many have had layoffs. Keough said that Loyola University Health System did not hire nurses for the past few months, which is almost unheard of. However, that hospital is now hiring 40 new nurses.

While nurse hiring is slowing down, enrollment at nursing schools is picking up. Two schools in the Chicago area, the University of Illinois at Chicago and Rush University College of Nursing, have both seen increasing numbers of students attending their programs.

Most experts say the job opening problem will let up once the economy begins to recover. The bigger problem, experts say, is that projections show there won’t be enough new nurses to replace those who retire within the next 10 years, while demand for nursing services will increase as the population continues to age.

A report from the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council previously estimated that the Chicago area will need 3,000 new nurses per year through 2014, but that only half that number will join the workforce each year.