Demand still high for nurses but softens due to coronavirus

A nurse at work at Kettering Medical Center Monday.
A nurse at work at Kettering Medical Center Monday.

But good nurses are still needed, execs say

Registered nurses remain one of the most in-demand positions employers across Ohio want to fill, if online advertising is any indication.

But compared to the pre-COVID-19 era, today’s demand for nurses is down, said Derek Morgan, Kettering Health Network vice president of human resources. The network has grown over the past few years with new sites, and last year Kettering hired about 800 nurses.

COVID-19 has halted that growth, however.

A nurse at Kettering Medical Center. 
A nurse at Kettering Medical Center. 

“We’re not finding the same level of growth, and COVID has had an impact on patient volumes,” Morgan said. “So the demand for nurses has not been as high in 2020 as we’ve seen in previous years.”

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One reason is simple: Fewer people are coming to hospitals for elective procedures or other reasons.

“It is tied into patient volume,” Morgan said. “We’ve seen numbers drop off. And people have a kind of a reservation about wanting to come to the hospital. Outpatient numbers have been lower this year.”

He doesn’t expect that to be permanent.

“When the COVID season winds down, we think outpatient numbers are likely to come back,” he said.

Having said that, the network isn’t seeing a sharp drop-off in nursing students or interest in the career.

“We’re always finding people with a heart for a mission to care for others,” Morgan said, before adding: “But time will tell.”

Right now, Kettering Health Network has 142 registered nurse positions open.

Larry Henry, manager of talent acquisition for Premier Health, agreed that demand for nurses is likely lower right now compared to the pre-virus environment. And he agreed that patient volume can be cited as one reason.

“People are questioning what they are going into the hospital for, and making those decisions,” he said. “Some of them are choosing to stay out.”

Statewide advertising across all jobs

Overall, online advertising for job openings for all careers is down regionally, according to Ohio tracking, but nearly 20,000 job openings were still advertised online recently for western Ohio counties, including Montgomery County.

A total of 19,685 job openings were posted online from April 14 through May 13 this year for Western Ohio counties, a region that includes Montgomery, Greene, Clark and 12 other counties, according to data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

That represents a decrease of 1,941 ads from the previous reporting period — and it reflects a decrease of 1,816 ads from the same period a year ago, the state says.

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The most in-demand occupation in Ohio? Registered nurses, the subject of 12,820 online ads statewide.

Nursing’s position as one of the most in-demand jobs has proven durable, from well before the era of COVID-19.

In an assessment issued before the onset of COVID-19, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that employment of registered nurses would grow 12 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

“Growth will occur for a number of reasons, including an increased emphasis on preventive care; increasing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity; and demand for health care services from the Baby Boom population, as this group leads longer and more active lives,” the bureau said.

In the area of Southwest Ohio that includes Butler and Warren counties, a total of 26,134 job openings across all careers were posted online April 14 to May 13.

That’s a decrease of 6,521 ads from the previous reporting period and a decrease of 9,749 ads compared to the same period a year ago.

In Western Ohio, the top advertisers for openings were Dayton Children’s Hospital, Oracle, Dollar General, Amazon and Kettering Medical Center.

In Southwest Ohio — a region closer to Cincinnati — the top advertisers were the University of Cincinnati, Children’s Hospital Medical Center, TriHealth, Oracle and Bon Secours Health System.

The most in-demand jobs in the Dayton area and surrounding counties are registered nurses, front-line supervisors of retail workers, retail salespeople, developers of software and applications and drivers of heavy- and tractor-trailer trucks.

In Southwest Ohio, the most in-demand occupations is similar but includes customer service representatives.

Across all of Ohio, a total of 162,937 job openings were posted online from April 14 to May 13, 2020, a decrease of 27,621 ads from the previous reporting period. Compared to the same time period a year ago, that’s a decrease of 30,875 ads.

By the numbers

19,685: Job openings posted on the state’s online jobs site last month for Western Ohio counties

162,937: Total job openings across Ohio posted on the state’s online jobs site last month

12,820: Job openings for registered nurses across Ohio on the state’s job board last month

Source: Ohio Department of Job and Family Services

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