In such a demanding career as nursing, I’m sure you’ve wondered how the difficulties you face compare to others in the industry. John S. Kiernan’s recent article 2016’s Best and Worst States for Nurses on Wallethub.com just might have the answer. The study ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia across 14 indicators categorized as Competition and Opportunity or Work Environment to determine the states most favorable for nurses. Indicators ranged from standard concerns such as salary and job openings to less obvious factors such as commute time and share of best nursing homes. Each indicator was also weighted based on significance.
The study found Washington State followed by Illinois, Texas, Oregon and Iowa to be the best states for nurses, and South Carolina, Alabama, Hawaii, Louisiana, and finally the District of Columbia to be the worst. What is interesting is the geographic concentration of higher and lower ranked states. States in the West Coast, Great Lakes, and Northeast (with the exception of New York) regions all boast strong rankings. Conversely, the states in the Southeast region have the country’s lowest rankings.
The differences in indicator rankings are also interesting. The best and worst states concerning the Percentage of Population Aged 65 & Older by 2030 indicator, Florida and Utah, was two-times as much. The best and worst states concerning the Nursing Job Openings per Capita indicator, the District of Columbia and Mississippi, was seven-times as much. Clearly, location plays a strong role in how satisfied nurses are in their careers.
As a final note, I would like to provide some feedback with the study. While it is certainly very comprehensive in its range of indicators, weights, and rankings, I do feel several important indicators are missing. The study seems to completely ignore the influence of state nursing boards on nurses. The aggressiveness of nursing boards has an enormous effect on the freedom of nurses to practice and the fulfillment they receive from doing so. In future studies, I would love to see indicators concerning the number of nurses on probation, suspended and those who have revoked nursing licenses, and length of suspensions and probations. By considering the effect of nursing boards on the nursing industry, the study will draw a more complete and accurate picture of nursing discrepancies across the United States.