R is for Registered Nurse
by Tim O'Neill
It is no surprise that Minnesota's population is getting older. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the state's total population increased by nearly 500,000 people or 10 percent between 2005 and 2015. Of that increase those 65 years of age and older, however, increased by nearly 40 percent during that time, adding nearly 280,000 people. Currently over 800,000 Minnesotans are 65 years of age and older. This number will only increase going forward, with the Minnesota State Demographer's Office projecting that one in five Minnesotans will be 65 years of age and older by 2030.
So, what does this have to do with nursing? To put it bluntly: everything. With the aging of Minnesota's population, the demand for health care services will rise, as older people typically have more medical problems than younger people. This trend will bring with it the increased need for registered nurses (RNs), who will also be needed to educate and care for patients with various chronic conditions, such as arthritis, dementia, diabetes, and obesity. With federal health insurance reform, more nurses will also be needed as the number of individuals with access to health insurance rises.1 RNs, as such, will be needed in numerous health care settings, including general medical and surgical hospitals, specialty hospitals, outpatient care centers, offices of physicians, and nursing care facilities.
Putting the Care in Healthcare
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic's Occupational Employment Statistics program, RNs "assess patient health problems and needs, develop and implement nursing care plans, and maintain medical records. [RNs also] administer nursing care to ill, injured, convalescent, or disabled patients, and may advise patients on health maintenance and disease prevention or provide case management."
The majority of RNs work as a part of a team, which may include physicians, anesthesiologists, radiologists, surgical technicians, medical and clinical laboratory technologists, and other healthcare specialists. Some RNs may also oversee licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, and home health aides. In addition to working with or managing other healthcare specialists, RNs specialize in numerous areas themselves, ranging from neuroscience to rehabilitation to critical care.
Over half (54.5 percent) of the RNs in Minnesota have a bachelor's degree or higher. Another 39.4 percent have an associate's degree. With an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) or a diploma from an approved nursing program, RNs generally qualify for entry-level positions as a staff nurse. After earning a bachelor's degree, RNs may go on to fill administrative positions, research, consulting, and teaching.2 What is more, those with a registered nursing license may choose to pursue a master's degree and become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). APRNs may be nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, or nurse practitioners.
With all of the responsibilities, the education and license required, and the fact that RNs may work around the clock on weekdays, weekends, and holidays, it follows that this occupation offers excellent wages. According to DEED's Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, half of all RNs were earning between $31.47 and $44.53 an hour in 2016. For those RNs who become APRNs, these wages climb even higher (see Table 1).
|Table 1. Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Wage Data, Wages Updated to First Quarter 2016
||Median Hourly Wage
||Q2 2016 Job Vacancy Data
||Requiring Post-Secondary Education
|Total, All Jobs
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations
|Source: MN DEED Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Program, Job Vacancy Survey (JVS)
Demand for Registered Nursing
The demand for RNs in Minnesota is anticipated to rise in step with the aging of the population. According to DEED's Employment Outlook tool, RN employment is projected to increase by 11.8 percent between 2014 and 2024. This means approximately 6,700 new RN positions. An additional 13,400 RNs will be needed to replace those current RNs who retire or otherwise leave the occupation. Altogether, over 20,000 RN positions are projected to open up between 2014 and 2024 (see Table 2).
|Table 2. Long-Term Occupational Projections, 2014-2024
|Total, All Jobs
|Total, All Jobs
|Source: MN DEED Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Program
Anticipated to grow nearly three times faster than the total of all occupations through 2024 and with more than 2,300 current vacancies, registered nursing comes in as Minnesota's second-highest occupation-in-demand. For those hoping to secure a rewarding career in today's labor market, look no further than registered nursing.
For more information on Registered Nurses, visit DEED's Career Profile tool at mn.gov/deed/data/data-tools/career-education-explorer/, or CareerOneStop at www.careeronestop.org/.
1 Occupational Outlook Handbook: Registered Nurses, Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm#tab-6. Accessed 3 Nov. 2016.