In August 2010, AACN conducted an online survey of nursing schools offering baccalaureate and graduate programs in the U.S. to better assess the experience of new graduates in finding employment during these recessionary times. A brief online survey was developed to solicit information from 802 deans of nursing schools offering baccalaureate and graduate programs. A total of 516 valid responses was received, generating a 64.3% response rate.
The Employment of New Nurse Graduates
Regional reports that nursing school graduates were having difficulty finding employment prompted AACN to take action to quantify the extent of these claims. Two questions were asked in the August survey regarding the employment situation of new graduates from entry-level baccalaureate and master’s programs:
- What percentage of new graduates from your nursing programs over the past two years had job offers at the time of graduation?
- What percentage of new graduates from your nursing programs over the past two years had job offers within 4-6 months after graduation?
Job Placement at Graduation
Of the 516 schools that responded to the survey, 406 (79.3%) reported that they had entry-level baccalaureate (BSN) or master’s (MSN ) programs for which employment data for new graduates in the past two years were at least partially available. The survey found that the average job offer rate at the time of graduation was 65% for new graduates based on data collected from 402 schools. By comparison, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) conducted a national
survey of 35,000 new college graduates across disciplines and found that only 19.7% of new graduates in 2009 had a job offer at the time of graduation. In 2010, NACE found that this job offer rate improved to 24.4%, which is still markedly lower than the 65% identified for nursing school graduates.
Digging deeper into the AACN data, the survey found little variation in the average rate of job offers at the time of graduation by institutional type (e.g. large vs. small school; public vs. private school; doctoral degree-granting vs. non-doctoral). However, there is some variability by region of the country. The rate for schools in the South is 74%, which is much higher than the national average (65%). Schools in the West, however, had a substantially lower rate (54%) than average. Schools in Northeast (59%) and the Midwest (64%) also dipped below average. This finding indicates that employment of new graduates from entry level nursing programs is more challenging in different regions of the country.
Job Placement 4-6 Months After Graduation
With respect to job offers for new nursing program graduates 4–6 months after graduation, the survey found this rate to be 89% based on data collected from 393 schools with entry-level BSN and MSN programs. This finding indicates an increase of 24% in employment for new graduates from the time of graduation. Once again the survey found little variation based on school type and institutional characteristics. The job offer rate did vary by region, from 78% for schools in the West to 88% in the Northeast to 89% in the Midwest to 94% in the South. Though employment of graduates in the West lags behind the rest of the country, the job offer rate did increase considerably, by 24 percentage points from the time of graduation to the period 4-6 months out of school (54% to 78%).
Complete survey information and data tables are available to AACN member schools and stakeholders by contacting Research Assistant, Yan Li at 202-463-6930, ext. 236 firstname.lastname@example.org.