Washington ranks as best state for nursing careers

May 3, 2023, 11:57 AM | Updated: 12:54 pm


Nursing is a lucrative profession, but has high stress according to National Council of State Boards of Nursing. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Washington state ranked first out of 50 states for promising nursing careers, according to the personal finance site WalletHub’s study determining the best states for nurses to succeed.

The study compared the 50 states across two key dimensions, “opportunity and competition” and “work environment,” — evaluating those dimensions using 20 metrics. When all was said and done, Washington came out on top, with Maine, New Mexico, Oregon, and New Hampshire rounding out the top five.

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Washington excelled when it came to mandatory overtime restrictions, the quality of nursing schools, and projected job opportunities. Out of a possible 100, the state received a score of 62.38. WalletHub examined the nursing industry to assist registered nurses, particularly new graduates, in picking a place to live.

Nursing occupations are some of the most lucrative careers, with a mean annual wage of more than $89,000 and some of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S.

But experts have claimed nurses still face numerous challenges. According to a 2019 report by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, about 17.2% of new nurses leave their first nursing job within the first year, and 33.7% leave within two years. The report also found that factors such as low job satisfaction, lack of support, and inadequate staffing were associated with early turnover among new nurses.

Jan Carney, M.D., an associate dean at the University of Vermont, said that because nurses spend their time taking care of others, sometimes they forget self-care.

“People who are passionate and committed to their profession also know that in order to make a difference in people’s health and lives, they need to take care of themselves,” Carney explained. “They should do things that they enjoy when they are not working.”

Gilbert Gimm, Ph.D., a health professor at George Mason University, said he believes nursing shortages will continue in 2023.

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“The extent of the shortage will vary by local region,” Gimm said. “Factors such as nurse workforce retirements, concerns about nurse safety in health care settings, and uneven workload distributions are likely to influence workforce shortages in the short run.”

Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Hawaii ranked as the bottom-five states in the study.

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Washington ranks as best state for nursing careers