JOBS JOBS JOBS! We have been hearing for years that the job outlook for nurse practitioners is growing strong. Nursing academia, nurse practitioner magazines, and various nursing websites (biased entities) continue to say the job outlook looks fantastic and we need to increase enrollment to meet the future demands… There will be vast shortages and all these Baby Boomers are going to need primary care… More people are getting health coverage… Blah blah blah…
So, lets pause here for a second and look at some numbers. The AANP reports that 23,000 nurse practitioners graduated in 2016 and 27,800 graduated in 2018. That is 4,800 more graduates than just a couple years prior. We now have a total of 270,000 NPs in the job market as of 2018.
The sheer number of graduates is frightening but now let’s look at what the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (non-biased entity) has to say. The BLS reports that there were 240,700 advanced nursing jobs in 2018. Okay, so now we have a 30,000 job shortfall already because the AANP states there are 270,000 nurse practitioners.
The BLS goes on to state that there will be a 26% increase in jobs over the next 10 years. We can expect 62,000 more jobs in the next 10 years. That sounds great! Wow that is a lot of jobs. The future is bright!
But hold your horses, don’t get to excited because it gets worse. If nurse practitioner programs continue to pump out 27,000 graduates a year over the next 10 years that will be 270,000 nurse practitioners entering the job market with only a projection of 62,000 new jobs being formed. That is a shortage of 208,000 needed jobs! Yes, there will be nurse practitioners retiring and leaving the job market, but I highly doubt there will be enough to offset this. Where are all these people going to work? Please tell me if you know! I would LOVE to know.
In 10 years there will be an estimated 540,000 nurse practitioners in this country based off current statistics and trends. The actual number will likely be higher. If our population stays stagnant and this number remains the same that means there will be 1 NP for every 600 people in the United States. VERY SATURATED.
My fellow colleagues I hope you see what our profession is going to face in the next 10 years. This is what happened to lawyers in the early 2000’s and pharmacists in the mid 2010’s. You are lucky to find a job as a lawyer for $50,000 a year when you graduate these days. I have pharmacist friends state that their salaries have DECREASED in the past 10-15 years and that job opportunities are scarce. One pharmacy student I knew had to move across the country for a job.
I personally know nurse practitioners whose salaries have DECREASED in the past 5 years. I have experienced this myself when I lived in the south east which is one of the reasons I left. I know COUNTLESS nurse practitioner graduates who cannot find a job or can make just as much if not more staying as a RN because “in home Medicare assessments” doesn’t pay enough.
Pencil pushers see this saturation occurring. They are not blind to it. They are beginning to take full advantage of the situation to line their own pockets with bigger salaries and bonuses which will result in lower salaries and more hours for us. New graduate nurse practitioners will take any job they can find which will lower the salaries even more. Further down the rabbit hole we go.
This is not happening all over the country, but it is occurring in many areas and will continue to spread.
I hear we need to unionize. We need to make admission standards stricter. The curriculum needs to be more rigorous. You should be a RN for at least 3 years before going back to school. Etc etc etc…
THESE THINGS ARE OUT OF YOUR CONTROL. The only way this will change if there is a massive revolt of current nurse practitioners and we bind together and demand change.
This is not going to happen. So, what can YOU do about this? Because you are the only one in charge of your own destiny.
You must mitigate this future risk by starting your own business. This can be a medical practice or another business outside of medicine. I own 2 businesses outside of medicine and it is AWESOME. The entire medical system could crash tomorrow and I would survive. You need this type of redundancy in your life as well. I advocate every nurse practitioner should open their own medical practice because it is what we know but consider another side business as well.
You need to have multiple part time side businesses.
You need to keep your living expenses down.
If you are in debt you need to aggressively pay it off as fast as possible.
You need to consider moving to a rural area or a state with independent practice.
You should be the most skilled and knowledgeable nurse practitioner you can be.
There are tough times ahead folks. You might not want to hear it but put on your reality glasses. Don’t stick your head in the sand. Do everything you can NOW to mitigate the FUTURE risk.