Top Idaho Nursing Schools, Colleges & Degree Programs
Idaho has, for a long time, been able to maintain a sustainable nursing workforce. However, this was mainly due to the economic crisis, which meant many nurses had put off their retirement. Today, however, the economy has stabilized and many nurses are retiring, leading to a significant shortage in the workforce.
Presently, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Idaho has the smallest workforce of nurses than any of the states that surround it, with the exception of Nevada. It is currently 20% lower than the national average.
Idaho is also experiencing a perfect storm of problems. The baby boomers are retiring and this will reach its height in 2015. Not only will this mean the loss of a large percentage of the nursing workforce, there will also be an increased demand for primary care. The teaching faculty is also dwindling and the demand for properly qualified nurse educators is incredibly high. There are just four schools accredited with the American Association for Colleges of Nursing and they had to turn away 153 qualified applicants. Indeed, the capacity to educate nurses is where the biggest shortage is.
There is now a significant drive to create a better educating workforce, with many schools now offering master’s degree programs both on site and in online format. Yet, there are still 730 open vacancies for registered nurses at present, with the highest number of vacancies being in St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center. Additionally, over 62% of residents in the state live in medically underserved areas.
The average salary for a registered nurse in Idaho is just $62,720, which is well below the national average, although the cost of living is lower as well. The best salaries are earned by those with the highest levels of education, but only 7.5% of the nursing workforce is currently an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. Their average annual salary, including bonuses and perks, currently stands at $94,944.
The demand for nurses in Idaho is highly significant and not just in terms of nurse educators. Although many of the current workforce are employed in hospitals, there is also a high demand for nurses in rural settings and in community health. There is a strong drive by hospitals to lower the amount of time people spend in hospital beds, which means that at home care demand is rising as well. The health care reforms are also contributing significantly to this changing face of nursing.