Nursing graduates see large increase in employment rate

By LIANNA SERKO

School of Nursing graduates of the class of 2012 saw a significant increase in employment over the class of 2011.

The Career Plans Survey, released by Career Services, revealed that 75 percent of Nursing School graduates obtained full-time employment, a major increase from 59 percent full-time employment for graduates of the class of 2011.

This placed Nursing School graduates second behind Wharton graduates in full-time employment among the four undergraduate schools in 2012. Graduates of the Wharton School reported 84.6 percent full-time employment, while Engineering and College graduates reported 67.8 percent and 57 percent, respectively.

Sharon Fleshman, senior associate director at Career Services for the Nursing School, suggests the increase in full-time employment may be a reflection of a strengthening employment market for nurses with bachelor of science in nursing degrees, which had slowed down after the recession of 2009-2010.

“Over the past several years, there has been an issue with the job market for our new graduate nurses. Based on the recession, there has been less retirement and less turnover with registered nurses, with nurses coming back to the workforce,” she said. “There are a lot of dynamics that might have fed into the job market as it is.”

In regard to the seeming strength of the current job market for Nursing graduates, Fleshman noted increased efforts by Career Services as a causal element for higher employment rates. The department now places a heavier emphasis on networking and encourages students to connect with nurse managers, evidenced by the 2011 creation of Nurse Manager Panels, which make nurse managers more accessible to and approachable by Nursing students.

Contact with nurse managers allows students to “make the most of their clinical rotations,” which may lead to a more secure path to employment.

The response rate to the career plans survey decreased from 85 percent in 2011 to 72 percent in 2012.

The average starting salary decreased marginally from $56,665 in 2011 to $56,051 in 2012, with both of these numbers reflecting a substantial decrease from the average starting salary of $60,325 reported in 2010.

The number of Nursing graduates attending graduate school also dropped considerably from 26 percent in 2011 to only 9 percent in 2012, a statistic likely correlated to the higher employment rate, according to Rose and Fleshman.

“Many Penn Nursing students eventually do plan on going back to school, but I do think going to school right after undergraduate is impacted by the job market,” Fleshman said.

The remaining statistics closely mirror those of previous years.

The vast majority of Nursing graduates who found full-time employment will work in Pennsylvania, with 19 graduates working for the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. This may be a result of the clinical rotations that are part of the Nursing degree program. Additionally, 64 percent found employment in the Mid-Atlantic region, down from 70 percent in 2011.

Of the students surveyed, only 6 percent are still actively seeking employment, a statistic similar among the other undergraduate schools, with 7 percent of College graduates, 5 percent of Engineering graduates, and 5.5 percent of Wharton graduates also seeking employment at the time of the survey.

“Every year we hope we’ll get our job market back to where it was,” Fleshman said.

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