Amber Crain hopes to find work in a local hospital, family practice or clinic once she graduates from an accelerated 14-month nursing program at Michigan State University in August.
The roughly 50 students in her class already have bachelor’s degrees in fields ranging from science to music. One has a law degree.
"It shows you the economy is not what it should be if people who already have bachelors’ are going back to school so they can become employed," said Crain, 24, who graduated from MSU with a degree in human biology in 2008.
Those students are counting on landing jobs in an industry that was expected to add 3,200 new positions in addition to 3,000 replacement positions from 2006 to 2016 in the Lansing area, according to the state Department of Energy Labor and Economic Growth.
Labor analysts acknowledged those numbers may be a little optimistic because they were compiled before the recession, but they say the general growth trend should remain.
Lansing’s Sparrow Health System, the region’s largest health care employer, has posted more than 130 job openings in the past three months on its website. Its crosstown rival, McLaren Health Care Corp.’s Ingham Regional Medical Center, has more than 60 job postings on its site.
Pretty good pay
The overall sector pays comparatively well. Annual salaries averaged $48,100 in 2009 for health care employees, compared with $39,928 for all private sector workers.
Crain’s classmate, Joe Griffith, 26, said there’s a "general feeling of optimism" among the class.
"With the baby-boomer generation becoming older and the problem with diabetes and the obesity epidemic, we’re only going to need more nurses and more health care professionals," he said. "For me to know there was going to be a demand for this position, it definitely played a role in pursing that as a career."
Experienced critical care nurses are in higher demand than entry-level nursing positions at hospitals, but that should change as the population ages and the economy improves, said Julianne Rose, executive director at the Capital Healthcare and Employment Council.
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