It’s a great time to be a nurse in the Great Lakes Region. And it’s a great time to get that next great job.
Whether you’re a new grad or a very experienced nurse, you’re in very high demand and can likely pick and choose the absolute best opportunity of your career. Health eCareers looked at why that’s the case in Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota, and Michigan.
And we’d like to invite you to our Great Lakes Nursing Virtual Career Fair on May 17, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. CDT. This online recruitment event connects nurse professionals like you with the top private practice employers, group practices, hospitals, health systems, and other recruiters in the region so you can explore appropriate scenarios for your next move.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has designated the Great Lakes Region—which for this purpose excludes Minnesota—as an area with a primary care services shortage with an insufficient number of physicians. That means nurses are even more important to the health of the area’s population.
In preparation for our career fair, here’s an assessment of the career landscape for nurses in all six states, which should give you plenty of confidence and reaffirm that prospective employers can’t wait to meet you.
“We’re seeing ten times the open positions for nurses right now than we saw before the pandemic,” said Indiana Hospital Association President Brian Tabor. He also acknowledged that plenty of openings exist but there just aren’t enough nurses to fill them.
The Indiana Business Journal reported in January that labor market data indicates more than 4,000 openings for nurses today in the state, “with a need for another 5,000 by 2031, due to retirements, reassignments and other factors.”
That same month, an Indiana University administrator shared that his work force consists of approximately 9,000 nurses statewide, and that the health system seeks to hire another 1,500.
Indiana House Bill 1003, “Nursing Indiana Back to Health,” would ease some restrictions and speed up the way schools enroll students, but in the meantime, Indiana employers need nurses now.
In Wisconsin, the Nurses Association said that in 2020, the state was short 2,800 nurses—before the full effects of COVID-19 had shaken the nursing workforce.
Still, staffing wasn’t just a COVID ramification, since a 2020 report from the Wisconsin Hospital Association said that an aging workforce, and older employees retiring faster than replacements could fill their jobs, also caused nurses to be more in demand than other healthcare positions.
“Wisconsin must continue to build our healthcare workforce to match demand and, at the same time, pursue strategies aimed at working more efficiently, leveraging new technologies to create better connections with patients and removing regulatory barriers that impede care delivery,” it said.
“The first problem is a facility shortage, and there are not enough people teaching new nurses, Wisconsin Center for Nursing Executive Director Barbra Nichols told NBC15.
Travel nurses in Wisconsin, as in all states, have become a hot commodity, and employers want to retain as many permanent nurses like you as possible due to cost, cognizant that a short-term fix is not practical.
Wisconsin Hospital Association President and CEO Eric Borgerding told the TV station, “The price of agency staff is going through the roof. Our hospitals are doing amazing work—we’re able to take care of extremely sick patients and provide high levels of care—but our capacity to do so is finite.”
Nurse.org reported in January this year that of 1,500 nurses from various national locations, a mere 12 percent say they’re happy where they are. Another 36 want to stay where they are, but need “safe staffing, safer patient ratio assignments, and increased pay in order to stay in their current roles.”
Jeffrey Murphy, Illinois president of the Schaumburg-based Emergency Nurses Association, understands this. He told the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights that, “We see this in our suburban hospitals. We’re seeing it in large hospitals within the cities, and we’re seeing it in our critical access hospitals as well. All of them [nurses] are suffering from pandemic-related burnout, short-staffing and many of the things that we were seeing before the pandemic.”
Illinois has not been immune to nurse staffing challenges, especially due to aging, since 52 percent of nurses were 55 or older, and 31 percent are 55 to 64 years, per the Registered Nurse Workforce Survey Report 2020.
The latest count of more than 104,000 nurses in Minnesota from the state’s Department of Health took place in mid-2019. A report from the Minnesota Board of Nursing on workforce data in 2021 showed that in the prior year, 17 percent of registered nurses (RNs) and almost 19 percent of licensed practical nurses, (LPNs) planned to retire or leave the profession in the next five years.
The Minnesota Nurses Association says that from 2020 to 2021, 63 percent of its members either considered leaving the bedside or knew someone who had because of their concern for the effects of short-staffing on patient care. On February 15, members testified in support of the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act during the bill’s first committee hearing, the association said.
If the bill passes, “nurses will stay on and return to the job, and patient care will improve,” it said. “There is no shortage of Minnesota nurses who want to provide safe, high-quality care to their patients; there is a shortage of nurses willing and able to work under these conditions.”
Specifically, almost 700 members of the association signed a petition in January demanding six Mayo Clinic Health System facilities do something about staff shortages and recognize their nurses’ COVID-19 sacrifices, said KEYC. They want retention bonuses and triple pay for working when travel nurses work with them.
Further east in Ohio, on March 9, the nearly-200,000-member Ohio Nurses Association announced a first-ever display at the Ohio Statehouse “to educate lawmakers on the need for common-sense solutions to the nurse staffing crisis,” with “real-life stories, statistics, and demonstrations.”
The association is asking for five realistic policy solutions, with the first being to fix staffing problems, and another to incentivize nurses to stay in the state and work at the bedside.
Commenting on the state’s nursing shortage last October 2021, Rick Lucas, president of the Ohio State University Nursing Organization told WBNS that “We weren’t prepared in any way for what we’ve endured for the last two years.” He said too much focus had been placed on financial performance instead of staffing.
The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center is also implementing a multi-year retention program, in which staff members will receive up to $6,000 through April 2023. The Ohio State University College of Nursing is seeing more people who want to be nurses. The school averages 350 nursing applications a year and it received 500 applications this year, the station reported.
Michigan is not immune from nursing staff shortages, as Second Wave Michigan reported in January. “We have lost so many frontline caregivers that now we can only staff a number [of beds] that is far less than what we had earlier in the pandemic,” says Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association.
A new coalition, the Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance, that is comprised of a group of powerful organizations in state healthcare, has asked for $650 million “to support staffing needs in hospitals, nursing facilities, and emergency medical services and workforce training programs to grow the healthcare talent pipeline.”
The Michigan Nurse Association meets for its Capitol Action Day on March 22 and will greet officials to advocate for the Safe Patient Care Act, which needs a hearing to move forward. It “would require hospitals to follow safe RN-to-patient ratios, limit forced RN overtime, and release data about their ratios,” says the association.
Now that you’re up to speed on all the actions taking place to ensure you are valued and respected—and rewarded—in that next job, we’ll see you at our career fair. We can’t wait to hear about your success.