Job Seekers Look To Expanding Field Of Nursing

Ind. No. 1 In Need Of Nurses

As many companies roll out cuts in the wake of the faltering economy, some job seekers are looking to an industry that has a real need for workers: nursing.

The Indiana Health Care Association ranks Indiana No. 1 in needing registered nurses, 6News' Jennifer Carmack reported.

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"We have the highest vacancy rate for long-term care RNs in the country and it's significantly higher than other states," said organization president, Stephen Smith. "One of the top professions over the next 20 years is going to be nursing, and the health care field in general, because of the aging of the population."

The need is welcome news for those looking to change career paths as jobs dry up.

Dawn Jarvis worked as a realtor in Anderson, but when the housing market turned south, she went searching for a new profession. She's now in her last year of nursing school at Ball State University.

"It doesn't dry up like real estate, you can take it with you wherever you go -- there was a lot of pros to the nursing," she said.

The pay is also competitive, with registered nurses making an average of $30 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ball State currently has 350 students in its nursing program and offers online masters courses as well. School officials said they would like to accept more students, but with the nursing shortage comes a lack of qualified instructors as well.

"We're trying to get more advanced practice nurses and, hopefully, some of them will come join us in the school of nursing as faculty," said instructor Sharon VanHove.

Instructors and students say nursing isn't for everyone, with a demanding schedule and long hours, but for Jarvis, it's the second chance she'd only hoped she'd find.

"I would encourage anyone not to be discouraged because of their age, to go back, to try it, give it a chance," she said.