Industry Outlook

The outlook is bright for jobs in the nursing industry. Fast employment growth is expected for many nursing professions in the years to come. As more people are living longer, more nurses will be needed to provide health care services to the aging population. Nurses that specialize in cardiovascular health and geriatrics will be in particular demand. The American Nurses Association (ANA) reports that in addition to more nurses being needed to provide complex services to the aging baby boomer population, many older nurses will be retiring, which will cause a nursing shortage in health care facilities throughout the country.

The coronavirus pandemic, which started in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, had a deep impact on the nursing industry in 2020. As COVID-19 spread throughout the world, nurses and other health care workers faced enormous challenges that have continued into 2021. There are critical staffing shortages in hospitals throughout the U.S., particularly in rural areas. Nurses who had retired came back to work during the pandemic, and many nurses traveled to other cities and states to help treat patients with the virus. According to an article in, the influx of COVID-19 patients has put inordinate stress on hospitals and health care workers. Among the numerous stresses, healthcare workers had limited access to personal protective equipment, were learning moment by moment how to care for patients with this virus that was new and evolving, were working extremely long hours due to staffing shortages, and were also faced with trying to keep themselves and their families protected from the virus. As Johnson & Johnson put it in an article about the nursing profession during the pandemic, "... 2020 will forever be the year of the nurse."

The role of health care coordinator is expected to increase, and nurses’ knowledge and skills in this area will be called upon to help patients manage their health care services. Also, older adults are staying in their homes longer, providing more nursing jobs in private homes and other health care facilities. The Affordable Care Act has made it possible for more people to have affordable health insurance, which has increased the number of people seeking the services of health providers such as nurses. There has been ongoing debate about repealing or replacing this law; if new health care legislation is enacted, employment growth in this field may be affected.

Innovations in the technology that health care professionals use will also affect the nursing profession, according to the ANA. Employers will prefer to hire nurses who are tech savvy. For instance, electronic health record (EHR) systems are now being used on mobile devices, so nurses can review patients’ health records on a handheld device at the site of care rather than having to look at medical records on the computer at the nursing station.

The ANA also predicts that there will be an increase in collaboration between nurses and doctors, to ensure that patients are treated most effectively and efficiently and that hospitals aren’t wasting money and resources. The reason for this is that the Affordable Care Act has changed the way hospitals are paid for services, with reimbursements based on the process by which patients are treated. Nurses will play a larger role than ever before in determining health care plans for patients because they typically have deeper knowledge of what will or won’t work for patients and they also know where hospitals waste the most resources. Nurses will also be increasingly needed to help patients care for themselves after they are released from hospitals or health care facilities. Treating people with chronic diseases accounts for a large percent of U.S. health care costs, and nurses who specialize in chronic care will be in demand.

The Department of Labor predicts 12 percent employment growth for registered nurses, which is much faster than the average, through 2028. This growth is expected due to a number of reasons already mentioned, as well as to an increase in the number of long-term rehabilitation facilities and facilities that treat patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Outpatient care facilities that provide same-day chemotherapy, surgery, and other services will also offer more opportunities for nurses. Competition for jobs is expected to be keen, however, and nurses with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and prior work experience will have improved job prospects. Those who have certification in specialty areas, such as gerontology, will also be in demand.

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses will also have much faster than average employment growth (11 percent) through 2028. More people have chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity, which will require treatment. LPNs and LPVs will be needed to treat these and other conditions. Also, more procedures are being done in facilities outside of hospitals and will need the skilled nursing that LPNs and LPVs can provide. LPNs and LPVs who have certification in intravenous therapy and/or geronotology wil have the advantage in the job market.

Spectacular job growth is expected for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners (advanced practice nurses, or APRNs), with 26 percent employment increase through 2028. The Department of Labor attributes this extremely fast growth to the aging baby boomer population and the increased emphasis on preventative care. In addition, as more states adjust their laws regarding APRN practice authority, APRNs will be authorized to perform more services. APRNs will be in particular demand in the offices of physicians, clinics, and other ambulatory care settings because they can perform many of the same health care services as physicians.

Approximately 137,800 new jobs will be added to the nursing assistants and orderlies field in the coming years, totaling 9 percent employment growth by 2028. This faster than average growth will be due to the need for assistants and orderlies to help care for elderly patients in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. Nursing assistants and orderlies will also be needed to care for patients with dementia, or with chronic diseases such heart disease or diabetes. Nursing homes depend on government funding, which could affect employment of assistants and orderlies when there are cuts to programs like Medicare and Medicaid. An increase in demand for home care and care in community-rehabilitation facilities will create jobs for assistants and orderlies. In addition, job turnover is particularly high in this field because the work is physically and emotionally demanding and low paying. Many job openings are due to people leaving the occupation. Nursing assistants and orderlies with a diploma or certificate from a state-approved education program and who have passed their state’s competency exam will have good chances of securing work.