Thursday, January 24, 2013

Unemployed Nurses, Part 2

A week ago, I blogged about newly graduated & licensed nurses who could not find jobs. According to a survey by the American Society of Registered Nurses, 43% of them had not found a nursing position within 18 months after graduation. (See article here, and my blog post for January 17, 2013)

As I was doing some research at the National Archives, I ran across some very interesting WPA projects.  Here's two of them: "To provide employment for needy registered nurses and needy professional, educational and clerical persons in the operation of a clinic providing free medical services to needy patients suffering from communicable diseases" and "To provide employment for needy pharmacists, nurses, and professional, clerical, and technical persons in the operation of a medical clinic at the Gallinger Municipal Hospital…to provide free medical service to needy patients."

Today, we are doing very little for unemployed nurses.  A lot of them are probably not even eligible for unemployment benefits, or have exhausted whatever benefits they may have been receiving.  Our modern approach to the problem of unemployment is largely an apathetic, or even mean-spirited "Oh well."

But we could be connecting the dots, as the WPA did.  We could be employing these jobless nurses, helping them gain the experience they need to get hired at a hospital or doctor's office and, all the while, provide health services to low-income Americans.  Instead, we have idle nurses and millions of Americans not receiving the health care they need.  As Ben Bernanke recently said: "The conditions now prevailing in the job market represent an enormous waste of human and economic potential."  (See statement here)

I would replace "an enormous waste" with the words "a colossal & criminal waste."

(Image above is a WPA poster, provided courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)


  1. It's not only new graduates that have problems finding work. I have 17 year experience as an LPN and haven't been able land a job in ten months of trying.

    The application process is more compless then ever, and many of us nurses over 40 believe that there is a lot of age discrimination going on as well.

    1. Seattle Times......"nearly 800 unemployed registered nurses in the state of Washington".