MADISON, Wis. - Nursing is a profession that continually tops the list of jobs in high demand.
In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said that more than 580,000 new nursing jobs will be created by 2018.
A shortage of workers was just one of the emerging concerns discussed at the Madison Area Student Nurses Association conference, which was held this weekend at Madison College.
About 100 of the area's future nurses were on hand for the 7th annual conference. The message was clear: The need for nurses remains high, but the need for nurses with advanced degrees is even greater.
In the next few years thousands of nurses nationwide are expected to retire, in a huge wave that some are calling a silver tsunami.
Dr. Mara Eisch, a nursing instructor at Madison College, said that's a big part of the reason that demand for nurses remains high.
"We've got a very aging population of nurses, and those jobs are going to be there. So we need to be preparing those people now," Eisch said.
Recent nursing school graduates like Fiona Gibbons said there are more opportunities in the field then ever before.
"There's company nurses now, occupational health nurses now, so limitless possibilities," said Gibbons.
Eisch said new graduates will likely have to move to other parts of the state to find work.
"Madison is great in that Madison puts out a lot of new nurses," said Gibbons. "Madison is not as great as there are not as many positions for new nurses."
But specializing as nurse practioners, nurse educators or nurse midwives will help graduates maintain their edge in a job market, though competitive, still promises to hold many opportunities in the years ahead.
"No matter where health care is being provided, nurses are there," said Eisch.
Eisch also said more entrepreneurial opportunities are opening up for nurses in the home health care industry, with some working in independent practices.
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