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Nurses find hospitable climate in Pa.

The Penn State School of Nursing simulation lab gives students hands-on experience. According to personal finance website WalletHub, Pennsylvania is the 10th best state in the U.S. to be a nurse.
The Penn State School of Nursing simulation lab gives students hands-on experience. According to personal finance website WalletHub, Pennsylvania is the 10th best state in the U.S. to be a nurse. Centre Daily Times, file

On Saturday, Penn State nursing students will walk across the stage at Eisenhower Auditorium, officially becoming graduates and getting ready to embark on a new career.

A new study says they are doing it at a good time, and in a good place.

According to personal finance website WalletHub, Pennsylvania is the 10th best state in the U.S. to be a nurse.

Pennsylvania scored 21st for opportunity and competition and 16th for work environment, but the combination of the two was enough to move the state’s nursing climate up to the top 10, coming in behind Washington, Illinois, Texas, Oregon, Iowa, California, Minnesota, Connecticut and New Hampshire.

That is good news for all nurses, not just the new graduates.

Mount Nittany Medical Center agrees.

Amy Jo Steele is a registered nurse. She is also MNMC’s practice advancement specialist for surgical services. She says what is good for nurses is ultimately good for patients.

“Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, nurses use their commitment and expertise, working together with other health care providers towards the common goal of making people healthier. Nurses are on the frontlines — administering and evaluating treatments, and communicating with providers while providing support and advocating for our patients and their families,” she said.

She also points to their value outside of a patient care setting. At MNMC and Mount Nittany Physician Group, nurses like Steele are also leaders in other areas, like serving as vice presidents and on the board of directors.

But does that make nursing a great option for someone looking to start a career?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the future looks good.

“Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will occur for a number of reasons, including an increased emphasis on preventive care; growing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity; and demand for health care services from the baby-boom population, as they live longer and more active lives,” the agency says in its Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Steele agrees.

“Yes, nurses are in demand and this makes nursing a very stable career,” she said. “This is an exciting time for our field because there are a multitude of unique and challenging roles for nurses that allow us to make a difference and improve the quality of our patients’ lives. Mount Nittany Health offers nurses the opportunity to explore these many roles, and as nurses, we are fortunate to be given the support for ongoing education and training to stay current in our fields. Mount Nittany Health offers competitive compensation and benefits, and we are privileged to be considered an employer of choice for nurses in our area.”

There are also opportunities for practical nurses like those turned out by Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology.

Jane Irwin coordinates the practical nursing program.

“We hold a job fair at the end of each program with typically 10-12 employers who attend and recruit our students for jobs in our region,” she said.

“All of our graduates obtain positions within 6 months of passing the licensure exam. Some of the employment opportunities include physician’s offices, long-term care facilities, schools, corrections, hospitals and home health. Additionally, Pennsylvania’s aging population has created an ever increasing need for practical nurses, which has been compounded by the current and predicted shortage of nurses,” said Irwin.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

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