November 25, 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.
ACVP - Alliance of Cardiovascular Professionals
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
University of Charleston
Holy Names University
Eastern Michigan University
Northwestern Oklahoma State University
ACVP - Alliance of Cardiovascular ProfessionalsWebsite
Peggy McElgunn: More than anything, they will need to be flexible and adaptable. Through the pandemic, thus far, we have learned that the ability to support health care on demand is critical. So being able to work many different roles, or be identified to support various aspects of cardiovascular technology, is suggested. Towards that end, seeking credentials demonstrating your abilities is advised, too. In addition to your degree, validation through voluntary credentialing programs will go a long way towards ensuring a place and then advancement in the workforce. Careers are built on flexibility and adaptability: willingness to learn as much as possible.
One of the best ways to learn about the latest approaches and advancements is participation in the ONLY national association representing cardiovascular professionals: the Alliance of Cardiovascular Professionals (Visit ACP). Membership is a great way to build flexibility and learn about adaptations in practice.
Peggy McElgunn: Frankly, cardiovascular care is still the most robust field in healthcare. This is mainly because it remains the number one killer (heart disease), but COVID 19 has impacted this. We know COVID 19 effects the heart, as well. And there are places for qualified graduates EVERYWHERE! Most hospitals offer fantastic onboarding incentives, too. And of course, they all have their protocols and policies - again, speaking the value and importance of flexibility!
Of course, again, membership in the Alliance of Cardiovascular Professionals offers graduates a chance to network and learn directly from those working in the field. They are also the first to hear about opportunities and openings and often drive possibilities through these connections.
Peggy McElgunn: There is NO DOUBT technology is moving at a pace unimagined before COVID19. The primary way this will affect cardiovascular technology is, we will be better able to see disease processes and, therefore, more capable of managing them more effectively. Interventional cardiology and cardiac imaging are where the enormous impact will be felt. But unlike radiology, where we see much in the way of AI driving change, people will need to continue to interact with patients in interventional cardiology and cardiac imaging. Therefore, technology will serve to advance practice but not displace a workforce.
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
College of NursingWebsite
Jason Mott Ph.D.: I think the best advice for new graduates is to be flexible. Things are going to change daily. It is essential to be able to go with the flow. Also, take time for yourself. As the numbers of covid patients increase, staff members are at high risk of developing burnout. It is essential to take time for yourself to relax and get away from everything, even if for only a few minutes. That way, you can prevent becoming burned out.
Jason Mott Ph.D.: In terms of technology, I think that telemedicine will continue to grow and be a crucial part of the health care system. Nurses need to be more comfortable with this technology.
Jason Mott Ph.D.: Salaries for nurses are outstanding. Also, there are many opportunities to grow and get advanced degrees, increasing the amount of money that nurses can make. There are so many opportunities to move around and advance in the profession to make nursing a perfect career choice.
University of Charleston
Department of NursingWebsite
Amy Bruce: -Most importantly volunteer - shows humility
-Variety - shows flexibility
-Consistency - shows loyalty
Amy Bruce: If a gap year is taken in nursing school, the student should try to work as a Certified Nurse Assistant or Nurse Extern. This will keep them in the field and keep their experiences and current knowledge fresh until he or she can return to school.
Amy Bruce: Within the next 3-5 years, Telemedicine will be at its peak. We are already using technology to diagnose and treat patients.
Holy Names University
School of NursingWebsite
Dr. Pamela Stanley: The skills that nursing students will need upon graduation in the next few years remains like those of the past. Understanding the role of a nurse and grasping the skills set required to start work as an advanced beginner within the nursing world.
Dr. Pamela Stanley: COVID-19 has changed the healthcare world dramatically. Students will be graduating and entering the job market during a worldwide pandemic. While some organizations have seen more older nurses retiring, creating vacancies for possible new graduates' other organizations have seen a drop in volume that has led to experienced RNs being unemployed.
Dr. Pamela Stanley: COVID-19 has also changed the way we deliver care, learn, and have meetings. Telehealth has been fast-forwarded by ten years, in my opinion. Nurses who had requested, for years, to complete telehealth work at home and were denied have been working remotely at home now for months.
Eastern Michigan University
School of NursingWebsite
Michael Williams Ph.D.: So much has changed with the current pandemic. With the initial surge of Covid-19 cases, nurses and nursing assistants were in high demand. Nurses were re-deployed within the healthcare system to areas overrun with Covid-19 issues. Elective surgeries and clinic visits were halted, and the healthcare agencies suffered significant financial challenges. As a result, some nursing assistants and nurses were subsequently furloughed.
However, as the healthcare systems recover from economic difficulties, or there is a second surge of Covid-19 cases, nursing assistants and nurses will again be in high demand. Nurses, working within any aspect of the healthcare system, are working harder than ever before. Staffing shortages, even short term, create additional stressors to the nurses providing care to patients.
Nursing administrators are challenged to provide sufficient staff to prevent physical and emotional distress among their nurses. Nursing faculty are working even more, challenged to prepare nursing students for this new world of healthcare. Education for nursing students has changed dramatically. Students are learning much more from simulation and virtual reality than has previously been used.
As a result, new nurse graduates will need more and additional support when they transition from nursing students to full-fledged registered nurses! All nurses will need more generous support from society with the stress of the pandemic. Nurses are, regrettably, at greater risk for anxiety, depression, PTSD, and suicide ideations due to the epidemic's prolonged strain. The physical and emotional health of nurses and all healthcare providers needs to be a societal priority. Despite all of these challenges, nurses will be there!
Michael Williams Ph.D.: Many technologies are growing in importance in healthcare. Healthcare trackers, wearables, and sensors will continue to grow and allow patients to self-monitor and report their health findings to providers in real-time. Wearable diabetes monitors that provide real-time blood sugar reports and control have revolutionized a person's life with diabetes. FitBit and other technologies can monitor heart rate, rhythm, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation will also expand in use.
The electronic health record (EHR) integration continues to build in decision aids and artificial intelligence for making better decisions. The EHR has made accessing patient information more available to other practitioners and patients themselves. Another technology that will continue to expand in use is a point of care testing (POC). POC allows for greater flexibility to meet the patient wherever they are, and will see continued expansion. And perhaps, the technology that has indeed expanded, out of necessity during the pandemic, is telehealth.
While telehealth has been available for many years, particularly in rural areas, it wasn't nearly as common in high population areas--patients were expected to go to the provider. Telehealth can eliminate many unnecessary "non-emergency" visits to emergency rooms and can be available, quite easily, in off-hours.
Michael Williams Ph.D.: Nurses will continue to be in high demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 7% growth from 2019-2029 for all registered nurses, but a 45% growth is projected for advanced practice nurses. There are projected 175,900 openings for RNs each year through 2029 due to nurse retirements and workforce exits. Many factors contribute to the demand-supply issue; specifically, 1) the nursing workforce is known to be older (47.5% are over the age of 50) than other occupations, and 2) the ongoing shortage of qualified faculty to prepare nursing students.
As a result of the pandemic, we see older nurses choose to retire earlier than planned, and some nurses choose to stay home to care for their children or more aging parents. So the demand will continue, the supply will continue to be insufficient, but there will be nurses. I am hopeful that Michigan, a state that has restricted practice for nurse practitioners, will finally grant full practice authority for nurse practitioners so they can perform at the highest level of their education and training.
I am thrilled to share that our applicant pool for our BSN program at Eastern Michigan University was at an all-time high this summer for the limited spaces we have. When asking the incoming students if they had any hesitancies about becoming a nurse during the pandemic, the response was overwhelming "we're more committed than ever before." This is excellent news for everyone.
Northwestern Oklahoma State University
Charles Morton Share Trust Division of NursingWebsite
Shelly Wells Ph.D.: As they enter the workforce, graduate nurses need a robust set of interpersonal skills, in addition to their general nursing knowledge. New nurses must be good listeners, critical thinkers, effective communicators, and problem-solvers to advocate for their patients, profession, and themselves. They must demonstrate empathy, compassion, dependability, flexibility, and a good sense of humor. The new graduate must be confident in their general nursing knowledge gained while in school and commit to learning something new every day while engaged in their nursing career.
Shelly Wells Ph.D.: Nurses continue to be in high demand throughout the nation. While new graduate nurses may not be able to find their dream "no weekends, day shift position in their favorite specialty" right out of school, there are opportunities abound for the new nurse to build their skills to prepare for that dream position. The demand for nurses in community-based agencies is increasing. Nurses who have completed their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree find expanded leadership opportunities, public health, and non-traditional nursing positions. One does not have to live in or near a large city to find a chance to work as a registered nurse as there are countless positions in rural America waiting for the right graduate nurses.
Shelly Wells Ph.D.: As technology continues to evolve and change healthcare, there will always be a role for nurses. Technology will continue to provide ways to diagnose and treat many more conditions with less invasiveness and lost time. Technology will be used to improve communication between the patient and healthcare providers as telehealth grows. New robotic surgery techniques will allow patients to recover quicker than more invasive procedures. Electronic platforms for storing health care information will improve from the current time-intensive frameworks. As the improvements continue to emerge, there will be no replacement for the problem-solving and patient-teaching skills that the registered nurse brings to the health care arena.
Katrina Malkin: There is no question that this pandemic is a game-changer, a sea change, if you will. Nothing will ever be that same, and that very much includes nursing school, both those who choose to enter it and those who make it through and enter the profession of nursing in a COVID and post-COVID world. In terms of psychosocial-emotional impacts, the virus has made clear to our students, in the most real and proximal way, that not everything has an easy order fix. It is not shot or pill or formula to follow-the hubris of our human position, especially we, as North Americans, have been knocked sideways.
Our students see, in stark relief, that there is no higher power, no Wizard of Oz man behind the curtain, who will light the way and hand them the answers. They have risen to the challenge presented here is a way that floods me with hope. We did not lose one single student when COVID came down last spring. I thought that Coronaphobia would have scared some of our students away. But their resolve to join the fight was impressive. Mostly they were frustrated at not getting to go into the hospitals and clinics that normally host student nurses. They want to serve. On a more tangible, technical, and logistics level - boots on the ground - we are all learning how to teach and learn remotely. Everyone is groaning with the effort of enhancing our literacy around the transition to online instruction.
We've figured out how to deliver instruction, and this will surely translate to cohorts of tech-savvy graduates who can work within their institutions and the profession at large to deliver healthcare this way as well. Telehealth is the next frontier. I believe that our graduates will be in the vanguard of what is possible to use the internet to deliver more consistent and accessible healthcare to more people, more often, proactively, and wide ranging. Treating chronic diseases such as our epidemic of Diabetes by going, virtually, into people's homes, kitchens lives, and working with them to build sustainable sea changes of their own gives me hope for what is possible.
Katrina Malkin: Rather than a geographic location, I think graduates should think outside of previous conventions of where a new grad finds a point of entry into the profession. How about telehealth? How about tech industry advisors? How about virtual health education? That is having been said; our students are graduating and finding jobs where they always have - major metropolitan areas, hospital systems like Swedish, Virginia Mason, the Veterans Health Administration, Overlake Hospital. Hospital systems now run well-developed nursing residency programs. Many of these are provided to the hospital through subcontractors who specialize in residency programs. They range from 3-6 months, include significant off-unit classes and training, and don't always lead to a job on the unit, where the graduate goes initially. Understanding what is out there in terms of nursing residencies, getting a job as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant), or other support roles is one of the very best ways to get a job in the hospital where you want to work as an RN after graduation.
Katrina Malkin: Enhanced A/V technology, both in the delivery of telehealth - allowing RNs to go virtually into people's homes and see how they live, will give us an edge for delivering more sustainable and holistic care - and get buy-in from our clients to make lifestyle changes in the context of their lives, not our sterile clinic settings.
Simulation education - We have ramped up an already burgeoning trend to use simulation to move our nursing students into the "hot seat" to give them opportunities to exercise their clinical reasoning skills in myriad dynamic simulated client case scenarios. Learning how to use their brains and bodies to deliver care in simulation - where they can risk trying what they think is the right move, without risk to a real client. We have sim manikins that speak, have pulses, breathe, have a heartbeat, their pupils dilate, we can make them pee and bleed, start IVs on them, and manipulate the whole client/RN experience from behind a one-way mirror. It's powerful.
During COVID, we are experimenting with live-action avatars. Since students can't come to campus, we, the faculty, are serving as their avatar-they remote in, via Zoom, and direct us. We are also exploring the use of virtual reality to give dynamic, low-risk experiential education to nursing students; how all of this translates to bridging the divide between real human client interactions and the virtual world remains to be seen. Will tech translate? Will we be able to sustain meaningful engagement with real human bodies? Technology has the potential to bring us closer or add layers of distance and divide.
Dr. Linda Roney: New graduates need to have excellent leadership and communication skills, especially during times of uncertainty. For example, many of our 2019 graduates were deployed to float to areas of need throughout the pandemic. Because they had full, personal protective equipment on, their new work area could not read facial expressions or body language to try to guess the nurse's level of comfort with their new setting. They had to quickly learn to speak up about what their learning needs were, and how to best advocate for their patients.
Dr. Linda Roney: There is a significant need for nurses across the country, in most settings.
Dr. Linda Roney: Technology is a significant part of healthcare. For example, we have seen a significant expansion of telemedicine during the pandemic, and there will be opportunities to expand its use. Innovation is central to advancing health, and while this sometimes involves the use of technology, nurses are experts at remembering what really matters-holistic care of our patients.