Lots of nurse titles on list of country’s best jobs

U.S. News and World Report’s annual list of the best jobs in the country is out this week and, per usual, the nursing profession is well represented.

Five titles with the word “nurse” specifically referenced make the top-100 list, which is based on high salaries, low unemployment rates and a better work-life balance. Health care in general seemed to dominate, with the field occupying nine of the top 10 spots. Support roles are especially promising for early careerists.

"Health care support occupations, for which demand is expected to grow as baby boomers age, are great opportunities for entry-level job seekers or those making a mid-career change," Susannah Snider, careers editor at U.S. News, said in a blog announcing the results. "These positions offer robust job growth and relatively low stress without requiring an expensive postgraduate degree."

U.S. News also has a few more lists, breaking things down in terms of best-paying jobs, best health care jobs and best health care support positions. Here are the specific nurse titles that made the overall top 100:

  • 4. Nurse anesthetists, advanced-practice RNs who work with patients on anesthetic treatment or therapy following procedures, earned a median salary of about $154,000 in 2014. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the profession to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024.
  • 6. Nurse practitioners — who perform many of the same duties as docs, including physical exams and ordering lab tests — took in a median salary of about $95,000. The BLS predicts a 35 percent uptick in jobs for the field over the decade starting in 2014.
  • 22. Registered nurses, who have a wide range of responsibilities, from administering medicine to performing procedures, earned a median salary of about $67,000 in 2014. The RN field is expected to grow 16 percent by 2024, adding almost 440,000 new jobs.
  • 69. Licensed practical and vocational nurses provide care to patients under the direction of physicians and RNs, monitoring patients’ health and offering basic care. These nurses earn a median salary of about $42,000, and we're looking at a 16 percent growth in the profession by 2024.
  • 80. Nurse midwifes provide an array of gynecological and family planning services, including helping with childbirth and reproductive care. They earn a median salary of almost $97,000 and their numbers will grow by 25 percent in force over the next decade.

Snow no obstacle for hero nurses

While blustery blizzards kept many folks from making it to their jobs on the East Coast over the weekend, that wasn’t the case for some determined nurses.

Case in point is Chantelle Diabate, a New York City nurse who walked more than a mile, in a storm that produced almost 30 inches of snow, to get to the nursing home where she works in the Bronx, the New York Daily News reports.

Diabate, 32, found someone to care for her 3-year-old, and bundled up in a bubble coat and boots, prepared to brave the elements for her shift. With public transportation shut down, she slowly trudged through the elements, wind whipping in her face, to arrive at the Hebrew Home, which cares for more than 840 elderly patients.

“I walked for about an hour and all I kept thinking was, I really love my patients,” Diabate told the newspaper.

Turns out she was the only nurse who showed up, with more than 50 other nurses forced to remain home because of the weather. A handful of other medical staffers, thankfully, stayed overnight and were there to assist. Diabate was tempted to do the same, but was happy with her final decision.

“I really have to love what I do to make such a commitment,” she told the Daily News. “This is what it means to be a nurse.”

Of course, plenty of other nurses, I’m sure, felt the same about caring for their patients. We’re seeing reports from all over about such cases, including North Oaks Retirement Community in Pikesville, Md., where 30 nurses and other staffers stayed over the weekend working 12-hour shifts to care for the elderly. Same for hospitals in Berks County, Pa., where nurses and colleagues stayed over the weekend and pulled double shifts to care for the sick.

University launches blog series to dive into nurse shortage

I’ve been writing this column for a couple of months now and it seems as if every week there’s something new to be said about the nation’s nurse shortage.

This week is no exception, as online American Sentinel University recently launched a four-part blog series exploring what’s causing the scarcity, and ways to remedy it. Topics explored in the run of posts include the current state of the workforce, education’s role in filling the demand, and the specific factors affecting supply and demand.

Tuesday’s post, meanwhile, focuses on ways that higher-learning institutions can expand the education pipeline. Better-educated RNs have been shown to improve outcomes, they note, and many hospitals are encouraging their caregivers to go back to school. And yet, with a lack of capacity and dearth of nurse educators at many nursing colleges, many are getting turned away. Nearly 70,000 applicants were rejected nationwide in 2014 alone, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

American Sentinel has a few suggestions to turn the tide in this area: filling open faculty positions at nursing schools, attracting more RNs to pursue careers in education, and turning an eye toward less traditional education models.

The series will conclude next week, on Feb. 2, with a look at supply and demand factors. For more tales from the nursing shortage front, you can also check out this report from KPLC News in Louisiana, on what folks in the Pelican State are doing to address the issue.

Rapid fire

There were a handful of studies related to RNs over the past week that I’m just going to run through real quick in bullet format:

  • A new report from the Nurses Service Organization found that malpractice claims against the profession are on the rise. During the five-year study period ending in December 2014, some $90 million was paid out in malpractice claims against nurses.
  • Another study by researchers from Northwell Health, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, found that only about 17 percent of nurses complied with all nine infection-prevention standards. Those include everything from washing hands after removing gloves to avoiding recapping needles.
  • Finally, a little bit of good news. A third study, published in JAMA Surgery, found that surgery patients seem to do better when hospitals treat their nurses right, Reuters reports. In hospitals with well-staffed, top-notch nursing departments, just 4.8 percent of patients died within 30 days of arriving at the hospital, versus 5.8 percent at other such hospitals.