Demand for nurses continues to rise, though high stress plagues industry


Nursing jobs are growing - but are there enough qualified workers to meet demand?

If you're a nurse or you aspire to be, job security is the name of the game – as long as you can handle the stress. Nursing jobs are increasing at an accelerated rate; the number of nursing jobs (RN and LPN) in the U.S. grew 6 percent from 2012 to 2016 to 3.5 million, and is expected to grow another 7 percent from 3.6 million in 2017 to 3.9 million in 2021.

At the same time, employers are struggling to find qualified workers to fill job vacancies, leaving nurses currently on staff with larger workloads and longer hours. Day-to-day demands and high pressure situations have 7 in 10 nurses saying they feel burnt out in their current job, and 54 percent of nurses rating their stress level at work as high.

The American Nurse Association has designated 2017 as the "Year of the Healthy Nurse," and the theme of this week's National Nurses Week celebration is "Nursing: The Balance of Mind, Body and Spirit." These efforts focusing on nurse wellness are needed, as nurses report feeling the below symptoms from job stress:

  • Tired all the time (50 percent)
  • Sleepless nights (35 percent)
  • Weight gain (33 percent)
  • High anxiety (32 percent)
  • Aches and pains (32 percent)
  • Depression (19 percent)

  • How to handle stress on the job
    Looking for tips on how to manage burn out? Here are the top three ways to combat stress:

    • Ask for support from your teammates. Having co-workers you can trust is critical to workplace happiness. Ask colleagues to lunch or to a quick coffee break or find a mentor. Figure out a way to encourage camaraderie and teamwork.
    • Focus on your career ladder. Think about your career goals. Sometimes nurses, who are often used to putting patients' needs above their own, aren't able to step back and think about what they want from their career. What are your career aspirations, and what are concrete steps to get you there?
    • Move your body. Exercise can help mitigate stress, and the long-term benefits of working out are numerous. Time to practice what you preach – find a workout buddy, try a new sport or sign up for classes at your local gym.

    When it comes to figuring out what stress solutions work for you, you might be on your own - 78 percent of nurses say their company does not offer classes or programs to help employees manage stress.

    Majority of nurses like their jobs
    Despite high stress, most nurses are happy in their jobs. The overwhelming majority (76 percent) say they are satisfied with their jobs overall. Common qualms? A third of nurses (33 percent) are dissatisfied with their career progress, and 22 percent are dissatisfied with their work/life balance. One quarter of nurses (26 percent) are dissatisfied with their pay and the same amount don't earn anywhere near their desired salary level.

    Interested in learning more about RNs? Check out these blog posts:

    What does a registered nurse do?

    The geography of the nursing boom