This month, many nursing students will be graduating and, soon after, looking for employment. While some may know exactly where they want to work, others might just be ready for a change and want to move across the country.

As a result, it’s good to have information about what states are the best and worst for nurses.

WalletHub came up with their results by comparing all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia “across 21 key metrics that collectively speak to the nursing-job opportunities in each market.”

The top ten best states for nurses are:

  1. Oregon
  2. Minnesota
  3. Washington
  4. New Mexico
  5. Maine
  6. Montana
  7. Arizona
  8. Nevada
  9. New Hampshire
  10. Iowa

The ten worst states for nurses are:

42. Virginia
43. Vermont
44. Ohio
45. Mississippi
46. Alabama
47. Oklahoma
48. Louisiana
49. Hawaii
50. New York
51. District of Columbia

As for some highlights of best versus worst, WalletHub discovered the following:

  • “Oregon has the highest annual mean wage for registered nurses (adjusted for cost of living), $83,867, which is about 1.4 times higher than in Vermont, the lowest at $58,810.
  • Utah has the lowest current competition (number of nurses per 1,000 residents), 8.46, which is 2.4 times lower than in the District of Columbia, the highest at 20.49.
  • Nevada has the lowest future competition (projected number of nurses per 1,000 residents by 2026), 7.47, which is 4.2 times lower than in the District of Columbia, the highest at 31.49.
  • Minnesota has the highest ratio of nurses to hospital beds, 5.03, which is 2.3 times higher than in District of Columbia, the lowest at 2.22.”

The states expected to have the lowest competition in the field by 2026 are: Nevada, Alaska, Arizona, California, and Washington. Those expected to have the highest amount of competition by 2026 are: West Virginia, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and the District of Columbia.

WalletHub also asked some experts about the nursing field. When asked for tips for recent nursing grads about where to live and work, William “Bill” J. Duffy, RN, MJ, CNOR, FAAN, Instructor, Director of Health System Management Program, Loyola University, Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing, said, “All nurses need to find a work life balance. The amount of care needs in our society right now can burn a caring nurse out if he/she doesn’t find that balance. So to answer the ‘where to live’ question I would say go somewhere that will make you happy (as you should be able to find a health employer looking for nurses in that area). If you want to move to the big city, there will be jobs. If you want to travel and do assignments in different parts of the country? There will be opportunities. The key is don’t just work anywhere.

Right now, there are options so you should work and live where you have a desire to be. For work, I would look for a place that is willing to invest in developing you and your career. So many organizations are looking to fill staff vacancies, that they are not looking at why nurses are leaving their organization. Nurses are loyal, caring people, but the organization has to respect and care about them as well. Make sure your prospective employer is interested in helping you and [your] career grow.”

Duffy says that recent grads should ask the following questions of their prospective employers:

  • Do they have a tuition forgiveness program?
  • Do they have a tuition reimbursement program for advanced degrees?
  • Does the organization support flexible work schedules to support school requirements?
  • How many nurses have been promoted from within?
  • Does the organization support the use of advanced practice nurses?

When WalletHub asked Janet Rico, MBA, NP-BC, PhD, Assistant Dean, Nursing Graduate Programs School of Nursing – Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, the same question, she responded with, “Seek adventure and challenge. Wherever you practice, you will be challenged, humbled, and incredibly rewarded. Consider less-traditional practice settings such as home care, day programs, and long-term care. You will be able to practice to the top of your license and will grow in your ability to think and act independently and collaboratively.”

To view the full report, click here.

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Michele Wojciechowski

Michele Wojciechowski is an award-winning writer and author of the humor book Next Time I Move, They’ll Carry Me Out in a Box.
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