November 20, 2020
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
Southern Adventist University
University of Charleston
The University of Texas at El Paso
Bay State College
University of Arkansas Community College at Hope-Texarkana
Southern Adventist University
School of NursingWebsite
Sylvia Mayer: -Yes, they are still hiring new graduates. More nurses are needed! Though still employed, nurses may be unable to work a regular schedule due to family needs or illness, children at home doing online school, or personal health issues. All of this is also the frequent need for a pipeline of nurses entering the workforce.
-Residency or orientation programs are robust and needed now more than ever. Employers are not fast-tracking new nurses without the right orientation.
-Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are seeking ways to support exhausted or fatigued nurses and employees. Creative self-care strategies include flexible schedules, mental health support resources, cross-training nurses to float and relieve nurses in the high-stress area, giving career-ladder credit for swimming, and other new Covid-19 related requirements.
Sylvia Mayer: -Do not wait to start a nursing job
-Make sure the facility's Mission and Values align with yours
-Look for initiatives that support healthy work environments and professional development
-As a graduate nurse, look for facilities that offer formalized New RN residency and orientation programs and ask what the first-year activities include (training, workshops, mentoring)
-It is essential to ask about Covid-19 related care and employee policies
Sylvia Mayer: -COVID-19 will be a regular patient diagnosis, and we will continue to care for these patients even in years to come
-It will take a few years to stabilize the nursing workforce again. Expect to see a higher level contingent (agency/travelers) workers in heavy Covid-19 areas. On the other hand, some facilities see a more stable nursing workforce, as many nurses are choosing NOT to do travel nursing at this time
-COVID-19 restrictions continue to modify how we deliver care to our patients. This will slowly create a 'new way' of doing things. Look at this as a new normal versus a barrier
University of Charleston
Department of NursingWebsite
Amy Bruce: Remember to exercise humility with your colleagues and peers in a healthy way. Know that you have a plethora of knowledge, but are still seeking understanding, support, and guidance from senior nurses in the field that have a lot to offer from years of practice and experience-partner with those who are willing to foster your professional growth and development. Do not seek out or stay in destructive peer-mentor relationships.
Amy Bruce: In the next 3-5 years, the future of nursing will need innovative ideas from graduate nurses who can bring the benefits of intertwining technology with effective patient care. In the new world of social distancing, we as nurses must find a way to bring back the human connection and caring component that continues to make nursing stand out as an honored profession. Among advances with telemedicine and telecare, interpersonal relationships and caring for our patients has never been more critical, not only with physical care but recognition of mental health disparities.
Amy Bruce: There will be an enduring impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our graduate nurses. Just as the Spanish flu pandemic, this has prompted nurses to explore ways to be innovative and creative in meeting patient care needs, and soar to the forefront of healthcare. Nurses have, and always will, rise above the traditional calling, putting patients' needs ahead of their own. We are a humble and robust profession. What impacts us, and changes us, will make us more reliable for bettering our patient care practices.
The University of Texas at El Paso
School of NursingWebsite
Leslie Robbins Ph.D.: The novel coronavirus has impacted the way we teach and practice nursing. Health care is a continually changing environment. However, as we did with the H1N1 flu pandemic and other past health crises, nursing will rise to meet this new challenge to ensure that patients continue to receive safe and effective nursing care. The epidemic has prompted nursing schools across the country to transition from classroom instruction to remote learning. At the UTEP School of Nursing, we have adopted new strategies such as online simulation-based education and virtual clinical experiences to ensure that our graduates are well prepared to enter the nursing field.
Leslie Robbins Ph.D.: A growing baby boomer population, improved access to health care, and a rapidly retiring nursing workforce have led to nursing shortages across the nation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for more than 1 million nurses by 2022. This substantial demand for nurses has created more significant employment opportunities for recent graduates, especially in the Western and Southern United States.
Leslie Robbins Ph.D.: Advanced technologies such as electronic recordkeeping and mobile communication systems are shaping the future of nursing care. From patient monitoring systems that reduce fall rates in hospitals to using telecommunication systems such as Telehealth to connect with patients in remote areas or lockdown during the pandemic, technology has evolved the way nurses deliver high-quality health care. As new health care technology continues to emerge, we anticipate it will positively impact nursing practice and patient care.
Jeffery Christian: The more things change, the more they stay the same. With that said, there will always be universal skills that are required for the nursing profession. Skills such as being a great listener. A great listener to me is a nurse who has empathy. A nurse who has empathy can put themselves in the patient's shoes and therefore, will be better at meeting that particular patient's needs. A nurse with empathy will know how to ask the right questions, in a way that is nonjudgmental, and uses open-ended questions that empower the patient to share their true self.
Building relationships with patients is vital for patient education and teaching. So much of nursing is teaching. If the nurse does not have the skill of relationship building, many opportunities to truly create change in the patient's life will be lost. When we (the nursing profession) truly see and understand what our patient's lives look like, then we put ourselves and our patients in the best possible position to create life-long change.
Life-long learning - nursing is based on Evidence-Based Practice. What that means is that the nursing profession is constantly researching and developing best practices. That means, if you are entering the profession, you have to be quick to adapt and open to constant change. Even more so than open, eager to find the best way to deliver world-class patient care.
Maintaining life balance - I have been a nurse for 28 years, and this profession is much more difficult now than it was when I started. In order for bedside nurses to be effective, and to not develop compassion fatigue/burnout... homeostasis has to be achieved. A young nurse just entering the profession has to know how to keep balance. Whether it is yoga, journaling, exercising, eating well, sleeping well,... all of these components have to be in balance so the nurse can come to work refreshed and recharged.
Obviously - one of the key components to being a great nurse and having sustainability in this profession is to be a critical thinker. Nothing is as it seems, and this profession demands nurses to constantly be on their toes and to be thinking critically about why they do what they do. Whether it is passing a specific medication, performing a diagnostic test, ... the ability to constantly think critically is vital for patient safety.
There are so many more, but I have to get back to work, and this is taking longer than I thought...
Jeffery Christian: That is one of the amazing things I love about this profession. You can work anywhere and in a multitude of settings. Hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, rehab centers, home health, insurance companies, non-profits, educational institutions... and on and on. I will say specifically, having your BSN and Masters' will open a few more doors. I do know UCDMC locally requires their nurses to have a BSN. Knowledge is power!
Jeffery Christian: Obviously, technology is only going to continue to grow and develop and, hopefully, enhance the care we provide to patients. At the bedside, electronic medical records are constantly being updated and revised to help the nurses provide more accurate and safe patient care. I think that is the key, what technology can do to ensure safe patient care. I think the industry is still working out the kinks on the balance of documenting the care provided (to gather data and evaluate best practice) and hands-on therapeutic care. I know the balance will get worked out because that is what nurses do. They problem solve and find the best way to help each patient achieve wellness.
School of Nursing
Dr. Annette Ferguson: I believe the biggest impact the pandemic will have on graduates is the ever-changing and evolving environment in healthcare. Since there is so little known about the virus, information is constantly being changed and updated.
Dr. Annette Ferguson: Traditionally graduate nurses have been able to find employment easily with several job offers. Depending on the area the new graduate decides to practice will most likely impact their opportunities. For instance, there has been a slight decline in job opportunities in pediatrics.
Dr. Annette Ferguson: I believe that technology will play a significant role in the next five years, especially in the field of telehealth. Telehealth is a safe alternative for many patients at high risk by allowing continuity of care. Telehealth requires a reliable internet connection with WIFI and a video platform. Also, you must have individuals who are trained and feel comfortable using the technology.
Department of NursingWebsite
Vilma Davis: The coronavirus pandemic has caused many industries, including the healthcare industry, to re-evaluate their focus and how they have been and will do things moving forward. This will no doubt have some enduring impact on nursing graduates. However, let me quickly add that the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for nurses throughout the United States. The opportunities that will be available to graduates will certainly look different from what they did before the coronavirus pandemic. Graduates will need to recreate in their minds what the ideal job placement may look like and recognize that the length of time for orientation to their position may be decreased.
It appears that many healthcare systems have been forced to re-evaluate their budget, and this has created less request for nurses to work overtime, for hiring per-diem nurses, and salary increases may be negligible. The coronavirus pandemic has created an increase in telehealth and remote work-from-home positions. In addition, there is more focus on community health or public health nursing on the whole versus a more individualized patient approach. A fact that may be overlooked is that there are a number of nurses who have chosen to retire due to concerns of getting infected by the coronavirus, which in itself has created shortages in the industry. Some of these vacant positions will be filled, but unfortunately, others will be terminated.
Vilma Davis: As previously mentioned, there is a need for nurses throughout the United States. Most nursing programs will intermittently have nurse recruiters come on campus, giving students an opportunity to ask questions and get information about the job market. This is one way that graduates can get plugged into where the needs of nurses are. Graduates can also visit the websites of various hospitals and see what openings are available for which they can apply. Doing a simple google search for "nursing jobs" will yield a plethora of available jobs that they can review and make the decision which they would like to pursue.
Vilma Davis: Technology has had a great impact on most industries, including the healthcare industry, and will continue to do so over the next five years and beyond. Technology in the form of "telehealth" has and will continue to give patients the ability to connect with their healthcare provider and receive care without having to leave the confines of their home.
Accessing lab and other test results quicker, accessing a patient's complete health history, especially when they transfer from one provider to the next, will be much easier. In addition, collaborating with other providers about a mutual patient in a timely manner will be enhanced. Patients will access not just their health information through protected portals but will be able to make and/or cancel appointments or reschedule an appointment.
Nursing and KinesiologyWebsite
Earlene Masi: Always be true to yourself. In any situation, never be afraid to ask for help. As you enter the workforce, remember communication is critical, always be a team player, and always be open to change. Remember to try and find a job that you enjoy, and that gives you a sense of fulfillment.
Earlene Masi: Since exercise science is so multifaceted, the technology/research that will become more important and prevalent in the next 3-5 years will depend on the area of expertise in which you are working. In the fitness industry, I think we will continue to see an increase in wearable technology and various fitness apps. We will also continue to see advancements in wearable technology use within the healthcare system, allowing for remote patient monitoring.
Earlene Masi: I do not think that there will be an 'enduring' impact on our graduates. However, I think there's a lot of unknowns as a result of Covid-19 and what the future holds. The job market may be impacted due to Covid-19. As a result, our upcoming graduates, along with those from other institutions, may experience difficulty finding a position in their desired field. I encourage our graduates to stay positive and trust in God's plan.
Alicia Cardona: For nurses beginning their careers, take every opportunity to learn everything you can. There is so much to do in nursing; you never know what you will find that you are good at or that you will enjoy. There are good days and bad days in nursing. Enjoy the good, and realize the bad is only temporary. Be flexible and take care of yourself. Nursing is demanding, so take care of yourself, so you do not burnout.
Alicia Cardona: The electronic medical record has already become such an essential part of the medical field and will only continue to be necessary. Point of care testing and other technology needed to get results, communicate information, and prevent errors will be vital.
Alicia Cardona: The coronavirus has changed nursing and healthcare, and its effects will change the way we operate in the future. It has shown us our strengths and our weaknesses. The pandemic has shown us the staff, supplies, procedures, and protocols that were needed and what was wasteful.
Lisa Rebeschi Ph.D.: One of the suggestions for new graduates is the importance of self-care. We have long known of the demanding nature of the nursing practice. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the nursing role's critical importance and the unique contributions made by nursing professionals. As the healthcare environment is extremely complex and challenging, nurses must remember to advocate for themselves and prioritize self-care.
Lisa Rebeschi Ph.D.: Telehealth will continue to play an essential role in the delivery of high-quality patient care. As nursing professionals, RNs must be familiar with the delivery of digital health, including issues such as the scope of practice, regulation, delivery platforms, and patient privacy to name a few.
Lisa Rebeschi Ph.D.: My hope, in terms of the pandemic's enduring impact on graduates, is the public appreciation and recognition of the RN's vital role. As the largest segment of healthcare providers, nurses will continue to impact the quality and safety of delivered care.
Bay State College
Cheryl McInerney: Medical assisting, like all clinical healthcare roles, requires significant job training to cement the skills that you have learned in school. It is essential to establish a good relationship with your preceptor. It is essential to ask questions and take notes.
Cheryl McInerney: Point of care testing will continue to grow in the future. Medical assistants will need to learn how to perform these new tests. Equally important, the medical assistant will need to understand why tests are being conducted to answer patients' questions appropriately.
Cheryl McInerney: The healthcare system is facing unprecedented demands as the COVID-19 emergency continues. Medical assistants will be critical to ensuring that patients get the care they need during their visits to their healthcare providers.
University of Arkansas Community College at Hope-Texarkana
Health Care AdministrationWebsite
Lori Arnette: I believe TeleHealth will continue to grow. It provides patients opportunities to seek out advanced medicine, without leaving their geographic area. TeleHealth offers more access and equality of care across socioeconomic lines, regardless of location.
Lori Arnette: There is no doubt the coronavirus pandemic will impact today's graduate nurses. They were affected as students, and the effects will carry over into their careers, as they continue to face the unknown. They will be practicing their profession in ways not seen by previous generations of nurses. Nursing has been, and will always be, ever-evolving. While the coronavirus has presented some new challenges, nurses will continue to do what they do best; adapt and care for patients, no matter the situation. Nurses are resilient, robust, progressive, and great changemakers.
Lori Arnette: I would encourage graduate nurses to consider beginning positions in the areas of the majority of their Nursing School Clinical experience. This provides more confidence in skill sets and provides a positive environment for the graduate nurse to succeed, at the beginning of their career.
I would also encourage graduate nurses to allow themselves time to grow into more advanced positions. Soak up all the experiences they can encounter along the way.
Find a good mentor, a seasoned nurse who will take the time to teach you and guide you at the beginning of your career.
Kathrine Skurski: Nursing is not a stagnant career. It is always changing and improving. Our nursing leaders and advocates are working hard to prove our value and importance in improving patient outcomes. New nursing guidelines and evidence-based practices/protocols are being developed continually. As a result, the skills you learned in nursing school will be obsolete in less than a decade. You will need to stay abreast of the changes and refine your skills as your organization's patient care practices evolve.
For this reason, new grads need to stay open-minded to learning new things. Every day you clock in for your shift will be another opportunity for advancement as a professional in nursing. Patients, medical staff, and leadership will throw away the rule book and change everything you thought you knew about nursing. You can think of those experiences as obstacles standing in the way of your happiness or skills that will help you grow. With that in mind, new grad nurses should always strive for more training and education. The more comprehensive your knowledge base, the more apt you are to being comfortable in any patient care setting or critical situation. Whether your passion is to get a master's degree or become certified in a specialty, your knowledge and education will be instrumental.
Kathrine Skurski: Expanding lines of communication will be of utmost importance, and a focus of technological advancement in nursing. As more organizations adopt electronic health records (EHRs), a patient's personal medical information can be accessed not dependent on facility or healthcare provider. With internet-based EHRs, an emergency room nurse can look up a patient's medication list, healthcare providers and specialists, recent hospitalizations, vaccinations, and more. Nurses and healthcare providers can also communicate (in real-time) across different EHR systems. This helps the nurse provide better care for the patient while keeping the medical team informed of the patient's status. Although many medical facilities in urbanized areas have been using EHR systems for many years, the push for all healthcare organizations to take advantage of them is stronger than ever. If any medical office or organization has not yet implemented electronic healthcare record systems, they will soon.
Additionally, handheld and Bluetooth-enabled devices will become more prevalent in the next few years. Many nurses already carry a phone in their pocket to answer call-lights or page a provider. However, the newest phones or devices will now record and upload assessments or diagnostic tests into the medical record. This generates efficiency in inpatient care. Bluetooth-enabled EKG machines and stethoscopes are becoming commonplace devices in many medical offices. It is only a matter of time before larger organizations purchase these technologies for bedside care.
Kathrine Skurski: In the aftermath of this global pandemic, we will find that healthcare consumers are more likely to question the necessity of medical interventions or medications. Patients will want a clear and concise explanation of the risks and benefits before providing consent. This is where teaching comes into play. Patient education is vital in this coronavirus pandemic as the general public is taking medical care into their own hands. Wearing gloves and masks was once an infection prevention protocol found only in a healthcare facility but is now conventional practice. Nurses will be the educators of health maintenance, screenings, and disease prevention for communities and individuals alike.
Another healthcare concern that new graduates will face in the coming months/years is the shortages in the workforce. Bedside nurses are being overwhelmed with gravely ill patients, complicated charting systems, and new equipment that hasn't been adequately instituted and staff-trained. New grad nurses may find themselves in traumas or critical situations, outside of their scope of knowledge, during these times. This puts the patient's life in danger. If the new grad nurse should ever find themselves in such a situation, they must have the conviction to speak up. As a Nurse, I must teach future generations the skill, knowledge, and self-confidence needed to succeed in the field.