Launching Your Nursing Career

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I could use some guidance. I just graduated with my Bachelor of Science in nursing, and I’m trying to figure out what I want to do with it. My parents are encouraging me to return home to Atlanta and apply for nursing positions at the hospitals and clinics there.


I’m not too fond of that idea. I’ve gotten used to living apart from my family, and my brother said I could get a job just as fast on the west coast. He knows I’ve always wanted to live the beach life there.


I wonder if my brother is right about the job prospects on the west coast. What are some of the best career paths for nurses there? Any insight would be much appreciated.


Congratulations on your recent graduation. Earning your college degree is often the first step toward a fulfilling career path and, especially in the case of nursing, it’s also a gateway to more specialized practices and lucrative salaries. The most important, however, is the fact that the US is experiencing a severe shortage of professional nurses. Roni Jacobson at Scientific American wrote a compelling article highlighting the nursing shortage and its long-term implications for the country. It doesn’t take a genius to know that a deficit of professional nurses translates into increased risk for patients.


If you thought the nursing shortage was a recent development, that is incorrect. James Ledbetter at The New Yorker traced the trend back almost half a century. He explains how demographics, socioeconomic’s, cultural perceptions, and the higher education system itself, all played a hand in contributing to the current dilemma. However, things are apt to get far worse before they get any better. Much of that has to do with the aging generation of Baby Boomers right on the cusp of their collective retirement. Rebecca Grant at The Atlantic already discussed how that exact scenario is liable to further exacerbate the problem. This is all to say that there’s never been a better time to practice nursing.


Now, onto what your brother claimed about the west coast. According to researchers at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), California is one of several states expected to see a continued shortage until at least 2030. Compare that with Florida, which should experience a surplus of nurses during the same period. In other words, moving westward has more favorable prospects than some states on the east coast. Staff writers at the career database,, further emphasize the nursing shortage in California.


One positive aspect to the whole nursing shortage is the fact that you can explore any number of specialized paths. You shouldn’t limit yourself when it comes to specialization. You might consider nursing informatics which is typically most appealing to people drawn to data analysis and technology. Either way, you can find travel nursing jobs for any specialty which would allow you to try new things and see the world. At the end of the day, the specialization you choose should resonate with you. It’s difficult to go wrong if you grasp what’s involved with that specific path.


The last thing to consider is the relocation itself. Assuming you want to wind up living and working in California, it’s also important to conduct thorough research on the place in advance. Alan Henry at Lifehacker did you the favor of writing a guide explaining how you can learn about a new city without being there yourself. He includes several relevant resources, too, which you can easily tap into as you continue your quest for knowledge.


“Because being a nurse is more than a job– it’s a way of life.” –