2018’s Best & Worst States for Nurses
Like most segments of the economy, the nursing industry changes based on the country’s socioeconomics. Key issues include the aging U.S. population, the student-loan crisis and concerns about the future of key entitlement programs. But such concerns are shared by recent graduates in all industries.
More specific to nursing professionals are the various day-to-day demands placed on them, such as mandatory overtime, overstaffing, unionization and disrespectful behavior by patients. Despite those challenges, however, aspiring nurses have much to look forward to upon certification. Nursing occupations are some of the most lucrative careers with the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S. In fact, the industry is expected to grow at more than double the rate of the average occupation through 2026.
With such bright projections, WalletHub took stock of the nursing industry to help registered nurses, particularly new graduates, pick a place to live that will bring success. We did so by comparing the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 21 key metrics that collectively speak to the nursing-job opportunities in each market. Below, you can check out our findings, commentary from a panel of experts and a complete description of our methodology.
Best Places to Work as a Nurse
‘Opportunity & Competition’ Rank
‘Work Environment’ Rank
|51||District of Columbia||33.08||51||45|
WalletHub turned to a panel of nursing-industry experts for insight into the future of the profession and how recent graduates can find success. You can check out their bios and thoughts below.
- What are the biggest issues facing nurses today?
- What is the long-term outlook for the field of nursing?
- What tips do you have for recent nursing school grads looking for a place to live and work?
- What can local governments and health systems do to attract and retain high quality nurses?
- Are the new policies implemented by the Trump administration a net positive or net negative for the work life of nurses?
- Are unions beneficial to nurses?
In order to determine the best and worst states for nurses, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across two key dimensions, “Opportunity & Competition” and “Work Environment.”
We evaluated those dimensions using 21 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for nurses.
We then determined each state and the District’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
Opportunity & Competition – Total Points: 70
- Monthly Average Starting Salary for Nurses: Full Weight (~6.09 Points)
Note: This metric was adjusted for the cost of living.
- Average Annual Salary for Nurses: Double Weight (~12.15 Points)
- Health-Care Facilities per Capita: Full Weight (~6.09 Points)
- Share of Population Living in a Primary-Care HPSA: Full Weight (~6.09 Points)
Note: “HPSAs,” as defined by the Health Resources & Services Administration, “are designations that indicate health care provider shortages in: Primary care; Dental health; or Mental Health” and “may be geographic-, population-, or facility-based.”
- Projected Share of Elderly Population in 2030: Full Weight (~6.09 Points)
Note: “Elderly population” includes adults aged 65 and older.
- Quality of Nursing Schools: Half Weight (~3.04 Points)
- Tuition Cost per Credit for BSN Online Program: Full Weight (~6.09 Points)
- Share of Licensed Nursing Professionals Not Working in Nursing: Full Weight (~6.09 Points)
- Nursing-Job Openings per Capita: Full Weight (~6.09 Points)
- Nurses per 1,000 Residents: Full Weight (~6.09 Points)
- Projected Competition in 2024: Full Weight (~6.09 Points)
Note: “Competition” refers to the number of nurses per 1,000 residents.
Work Environment – Total Points: 30
- Mandatory Overtime Restrictions: Double Weight (~5.45 Points)
- Ratio of Nurses to Hospital Beds: Full Weight (~2.73 Points)
- Nurses Job Growth (2017 vs 2013): Double Weight (~5.45 Points)
- Presence of Nursing Licensure Compact Law: Full Weight (~2.73 Points)
Note: This metric considers the presence or absence of a Nursing Licensure Compact law in the state. The compact allows nurses to practice in their home state and other participating states.
- Regulatory Requirement for Nurse Practitioners: Full Weight (~2.73 Points)
- Share of Best Nursing Homes: Full Weight (~2.73 Points)
Note: This metric is based on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Nursing Homes rating.
- Quality of Public Hospital System: Full Weight (~2.73 Points)
Note: This metric is based on data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
- Friendliness Toward Working Moms: Full Weight (~2.73 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s Best & Worst States for Working Moms ranking. In 2011, there were 3.5 million employed nurses in the U.S., and about 3.2 million were female.
- Average Number of Work Hours: Half Weight (~1.36 Points)
- Average Commute Time: Half Weight (~1.36 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Council for Community and Economic Research, HRSA Data Warehouse, Center on Education and the Workforce, Indeed.com, National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. News & World Report, Projections Central - State Occupational Projections, Nurse.org, Nursing Economic$, The Journal for Health Care Leaders, American Association of Nurse Practitioners and WalletHub research.
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