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There have been so many ups and downs for nurses in the last few years. Covid has been a once-in-generation challenge, but on the positive side, travel nurses have never earned more. Nurses are in-demand, and yet that demand has caused many to burn out.

For 2023, it may be helpful to know a few reliable nursing statistics to understand what nursing is like now, and how it’s likely to continue to change. Any one of these 2023 nursing statistics could affect your job outlook as a nurse, or the hospitals and facilities you work at.

1. Nursing shortage is real

Over 275,000 additional nurses are needed in the next eight years according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The nursing shortage we’ve all been hearing about is real, and the gap between how many nurses the United States will need and how many nurses we have is large.

In addition, 34% of nurses said they would likely quit their job by the end of 2022, primarily because of burnout and working in a high-stress environment. There’s been a lot of press about nurses burning out. And if you’re a nurse already, you definitely don’t need to be told about it. In 2022, the burnout rates were high post-pandemic. We expect that to taper in 2023, but it will still be a factor.

This suggests the shortage of nurses will continue (a trend we expect, and Moody’s also predicts). So if you’re in nursing school, or thinking about becoming a nurse, rest assured: there will be plenty of work for you. Take note: This also means that nurses need to be as conscious and deliberate as possible about taking care of themselves. The burnout wave is real. Don’t let it knock you out.

2. High number of job openings projected

As current nurses either retire or leave for other professions, about 203,200 openings for registered nurses are projected each year, on average, over the decade, according to the BLS. This is yet another sign that nurses will continue to be in demand. Even if one location is fully staffed, travel nurses will be able to find work easily.

3. More opportunities for nurses with specialized skills

The BLS expects “employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 6% from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations,” but some nursing specialties are expected to grow dramatically faster. Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners are expected to have a 40% growth rate according to the BLS.

There will always be a demand for registered nurses, but this statistic does hint at an opportunity for anyone still in training: Nurses with specialized skills may have better prospects, both for job placements and pay. Getting some extra training could be worthwhile in 2023.

4. Employers prefer hiring nurses with at least a baccalaureate degree in nursing

Employers prefer hiring new nurses with baccalaureate preparation. Findings from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s (AACN) survey on the Employment of New Nurse Graduates show that “nearly 41% of employers require new hires to have a bachelor’s degree while 77% strongly prefer baccalaureate-prepared nurses.”

Here’s another example of why getting extra training — or being smart about what training you get in school — matters. Even if you don’t want to be a travel nurse, being baccalaureate-prepared means you’ll be able to get choice posts wherever you want.

5. Travel nurses are in high demand

The hours of work put in by travel nurses versus staff nurses have grown dramatically in the last few years. As the American Hospital Association explains, “The hours worked by travel nurses as a percentage of total hours worked by nurses in hospitals grew from less than 4% in January 2019 to over 23% in January 2022.”

That’s nearly a six-fold increase in just three years. And there’s no sign it’s going to let up in 2023. Travel nursing is becoming a larger part of nurses’ careers. That’s not going to change. There has been a nearly 120% increase in job postings for contract or travel nurses from pre-pandemic levels in January 2019 to January 2022.

What these statistics mean if you’re considering a career in nursing

So now you know what’s really going on in the nursing industry, with statistics to back up the trends. Travel nurses are in high demand along with nurses who have specialized skills, and especially nurses who are baccalaureate-prepared.

But all this growth is straining hospital budgets. And nurses themselves are under enormous pressure, with too many burning out. Hopefully 2023 will see some easing of the pressures brought by Covid.

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