by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Add registered nurses to the list of people getting headaches from Obamacare.
The new law is accelerating a push toward requiring them to have higher-level education. Many nurses find that it isn’t easy to get a job without a four-year degree, which traditionally they haven’t needed.
“You do have hospitals increasingly expecting that nurses have at least a [bachelor’s] degree,” said Diana Mason, former president of the American Academy of Nursing. “The Affordable Care Act is raising the bar.”
Nursing has traditionally been a good career path for people from low-income backgrounds partly because it didn’t require the cost of financing a full college education. But nurses with just a two-year degree now face more competition and are increasingly finding that they’ll need a four-year degree just to be competitive in the job market — something that many may not be able to afford.
Meanwhile, more nurses are staying in the profession longer since the recession caused many to postpone retirement. Those factors are creating a potential problem no one foresaw: an excess of nurses.
A decade ago the concern was over an expected shortage. Hospitals now have their pick of who to hire. A study last year by the Health Resources Services Administration predicted that the workforce could have a surplus of 300,000 nurses by 2025.