As the health care industry adapts to modern changes and demands, nursing is emerging as one of the fastest-growing occupations in the nation. Nursing careers are forecast by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to grow by 26% by 2020, and during that time, people entering the nursing field will see more open positions than any other occupation, as 712,000 jobs are created. The United States is already struggling with a shortage of healthcare professionals, and future events are predicted to further strain the system.
As members of the baby boomer generation begin to age, their ailments are forecast to increase the demand for caregivers. Additionally, more than half of the nursing workforce is nearing retirement, making nursing students an essential part of the health care industry’s future. Experts anticipate that 2014 will have the most immediate impact on the field, when the Affordable Care Act goes into effect and the system is forced to accommodate an additional 32 million patients.
Another excellent aspect of the nursing field is that opportunities for nursing jobs are available across all levels of education. With only an associate degree a person can become a registered nurse, and nursing graduates with baccalaureate and advanced degrees are predicted to be in high demand as well. In fact, specialists and nurse practitioners are expected to be an essential component of managing the overflow of patients that will seek care over the next few years.
In addition to all of the available nursing jobs, students may also receive scholarships and other financial incentives to obtain their associate degree or to advance from an RN to a BSN or beyond.