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There will be far more registered nurse jobs available through 2022 than any other profession, at more than 100,000 per year. With more than 500,000 seasoned RNs anticipated to retire by 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need to produce 1.1 million new RNs for expansion and replacement of retirees, and avoid a nursing shortage.

Current employment signals are mixed: shortages in some areas and surpluses in others. Nursing school graduates have experienced challenges landing initial jobs. Health care employers have tightened hiring or even ordered layoffs, and many RNs have delayed retirement as a result of the recession.

Despite the mixed signals, opportunities for RNs abound:

  • The Affordable Care Act is increasing access to health care services for more individuals.
  • Reform initiatives are increasing emphasis on primary care, prevention, wellness and chronic disease management.
  • Baby Boomers are swelling the Medicare rolls.
  • Community-based care is growing.
  • Specialties, such as geriatrics, informatics, and care coordinators, are blossoming.

The fastest growth for RNs’ employment is projected in the West and Mountain states. The slowest growth is anticipated in the Northeast and Midwest. But in every state, growth is projected at 11 percent or more annually through 2022. For the bigger picture on the nursing workforce, check these resources.