Nurses Needed!

by Ainoura Oussenbec

July 6, 2017

The health care industry in Oregon, and the Rogue Valley in particular, has expanded for decades with hardly any significant slowdown even during recessions. That strong growth has been correlated with the persistent demand for nurses. Every hard-to-fill list of jobs in any part of the state would usually include nurses, with registered nurses at the top.

Career Path with Several Steps

The nursing field includes several occupations, from certified nursing assistants (CNAs), and licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (LPNs), to registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs). The differences between these main categories lie in educational requirements, scope of duties and pay. The typical entry level education for CNAs is a short postsecondary non-degree award. LPNs have to complete a longer, more advanced post-secondary training. The typical educational requirement for RNs is a bachelor’s degree while a master’s degree is generally required for NPs.

CNAs, as the title suggests, assist LPNs and RNs in caring for the patients. LPNs can care for the patients under the supervision of RNs and have more room for independent decisions. While RNs are responsible for administering patient care and supervising other nurses, the NPs can actually diagnose and treat illnesses, independently or as part of a healthcare team.

Many Jobs and Higher Wages

According to OED’s employment estimates for 2014, there were 829 CNAs and 253 LPNs providing nursing care in the Rogue Valley. The RNs were the largest group with 2,290 jobs while the NPs was the smallest group at 113.

In 2016, the average Rogue Valley wages for CNA’s were $14.75 per hour, while LPNs earned $24.04 per hour. The average wages for RN’s reached $38.80, and the NPs commanded as much as $54.04 per hour.
According to OED’s projections for 2014-2024 for the Rogue Valley, the health care industry overall is expected to grow by 14 percent, faster than all industries combined. Most nursing jobs are also likely to grow 12 percent to 13 percent but the demand for Nurse Practitioners is remarkably higher in the Rogue Valley as well as in Oregon. The number of jobs for NPs is expected to increase by 29.2 percent in the Rogue Valley and by 34.6 percent in Oregon. According to Forbes (July 15, 2015), Nurse Practitioners with their increasing ability to practice autonomous primary care are more in demand than most physicians. This is because modern value-based care emphasizes the outpatient, more preventative and less costly care. Nurse Practitioners can handle about 80 percent to 90 percent of physician level care at a lower cost, making them an attractive option, especially in rural areas.

Each health care institution is required to have adequate staffing ratios for nurses, set by the respective administration and nurses together. The widespread practice (in other industries) of trying to do more with less can’t be applied to the life-or-death industry of health care. Shortages of nurses at any level can impact us all in the end.

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