Nurses and student nurses are discovering that a nursing glut and the recession are making it difficult to find or change jobs.
"The jobs simply aren't available that were there two years ago," says Ida Ross, a St. Joseph Hospital nurse who was among 900 nurses and nursing students who attended the Baltimore Association of Nurse Recruiters' career day Saturday at the Baltimore Convention Center.
Forty Maryland hospitals sent recruiters to the event.
"The recruiters once hawked you, sought you out," Ms. Ross said. "Now they are very laid back. They say, 'We'll talk later.' Nursing is a highly stressful job. There are a lot of burnouts. People often want to change their jobs."
"All I could get was one appointment. I wasn't pleased," said D.J. Smyth, an Essex Community College nursing student.
Hospital recruiters said there are some nursing jobs available, especially for applicants with experience. Carolyn Post, of Harbor Hospital Center, said she has eight vacancies for registered nurses.
Other recruiters said nursing homes also have vacancies, but in general this year's large number of graduating student nurses will have trouble getting jobs.
Carrie H. Roll, who hires nurses for St. Joseph, said the recession has trimmed the number of nursing jobs available.
"People once thought that nursing was recession-proof," Mrs. Roll said. "It's not so. People are being laid off and losing their medical benefits. Others are putting off elective surgery.
"This is the second nursing glut I've experienced where there are more nursing graduates than jobs. Yet the students will eventually get jobs, but they might not be their first choice," she said.
Mrs. Roll said a campaign several years ago to boost the image of the nursing profession achieved its goal. "It was successful and now we have many nursing students," she said. "Many are women in their 30s and 40s. They are full of good judgment, common sense and life experiences. They have wonderful skills with people and are good patient advocates. But the job outlook is not what it was two or three years ago."
Kathy Stinefelt, president of the senior class at the Catonsville Community College nursing school, found out firsthand about the dismal job market. "You're in for a rude awakening," she said. "The money offered is low after you've put your heart and soul into years of studying and keeping grades high."