Nurses are an incredibly important and integral part of our healthcare system. And the unprecedented pandemic highlighted just how crucial nurses are in protecting and caring for patients. While a growing nursing shortage was prevalent prior to the arrival of Covid-19, the pandemic further exacerbated healthcare gaps and the increasing demand for nurses. 

What’s Causing the Nursing Shortage?

  • Growing number of retirees: Many nurses are reaching retirement age, with an estimated 47.5% of all RNs now over the age of 50. At the onset of the pandemic, many were given early retirement packages, as elective surgeries were put on hold and healthcare organizations shifted resources towards combating the virus, further increasing the shortage. 
  • Aging population: Aging baby boomers are inflating patient volume and needs. Older adults are grappling with more than one chronic disease, on average, spiking the need for ongoing medical care. 
  • Burnout: At the height of the pandemic, nurses were exposed to unimaginable circumstances – understaffed facilities, increased workload, long shifts, and the stress of caring for patients battling Covid-19. 

It’s no surprise: the demand for nurses and nurse practitioners is high. What’s more, nursing positions offer long-term income and job security – even during times of economic downturn. And considering the current state of the labor market, now is an optimal time for nurses to propel their careers forward. 

Here’s how to achieve new levels of success in your nursing career. 

1. Re-negotiate Your Salary

While salary numbers greatly fluctuate depending on factors like seniority level, specialty area and geographic location, healthcare leaders are open and willing to re-negotiate salary and benefits packages. Tap into your professional network or lean on the expertise of a recruiter to gain a robust understanding of how your skills and experience can translate into compensation.

During negotiations, it’s imperative to make a case for the salary or perks (like PTO) that you’re asking for. Whether you’ve exceeded performance goals or have several impressive accomplishments on your resume, highlight these items and discuss how they align with the employer’s needs and goals.

2. Explore Your Options

Understanding what options are out there means dipping your toe in the proverbial pool. Whether you have a desire to broaden your responsibilities, want more flexible scheduling, or would like to transition to a new healthcare model, like value-based care, conducting research and setting up interviews will give you a feel for what opportunities are available. 

What’s more, you can partner with a healthcare recruiter and leverage their vast network of connections and resources to tap into open positions. Reputable recruitment firms will have invaluable insight into navigating today’s labor market and help you identify positions commensurate with your professional background and goals. And, since one of their core strengths is understanding both sides of a salary discussion, they can more effecgtively negotiate for you. 

Phew. That takes some pressure off your shoulders. 

3. Flexible Scheduling

Speaking with CNN, Vanessa Bohns, author of You Have More Influence Than You Think and Associate Professor of Organization Behavior at Cornell University shares, “[Flexibility] is something that’s really worthwhile to ask for.” 

Every hospital or medical facility has its own unique culture – some emphasize work-life balance, some focus on the patient experience, and others are purpose-driven. By gaining an understanding of what matters to an organization, you can incorporate it into your scheduling request. 

If the practice cares about productivity, for instance, discuss how you’ve hit KPIs, contributed to patient satisfaction or were able to satisfy work obligations within the timeframe you’re requesting. From poor patient outcomes to high turnover, the cost of burnout is far too great for organizations to take a gamble on. 

So make a clear business case for why you’re proposing a flexible schedule and you’ll find hiring managers are incredibly receptive (and even expect) to have these types of conversations. 

4. Find Your Passion/Specialty

With the need for nurses growing each day, now is a great time to explore different career paths within the field. There are so many opportunities to expand your skillset and enjoy upward mobility. You can opt to specialize in a particular area, like oncology or pediatric care, or elect to earn an advanced degree, such as a master’s in nursing (MSN). 

Given the rising demand for healthcare professionals across a range of specialties, nurses have a unique opportunity to benefit from the current market and take their careers to new heights. If you’re a nurse looking to grow and advance your career, contact the Polaris team today to learn how our recruiters can help you achieve your goals.