Map: The best (and worst) states to be a nurse in 2019, according to WalletHub

Oregon is the best state in the country for nurses, according to a WalletHub report released Tuesday.

Make every week 'Nurses Week': 5 ways to recognize nurses year-round

Report details

For the report, WalletHub researchers assessed all 50 states and Washington, D.C., on 21 weighted metrics.

Researchers based 70% of a state's score on 11 metrics related to opportunity and competition, including:

  • The educational opportunities available in a state, based on quality of nursing schools;
  • The monthly average starting salary for nurses in a state, which was adjusted for cost of living;
  • The number of nursing-job openings per capita in a state; and
  • The number of nurses per 1,000 residents in a state.

The researchers based the remaining 30% of the score on 10 metrics related to work environment, including:

  • Any mandatory overtime restrictions in a state;
  • The quality of a state's public hospital system;
  • The ratio of nurses to hospital beds in a state; and
  • Whether a state has a nursing licensure compact law.

State rankings

WalletHub gave every state and Washington, D.C., an overall ranking as well as a ranking on opportunity and competition and on work environment.

The five best states for nurses, according to the report are:

  1. Oregon;
  2. Minnesota;
  3. Washington;
  4. New Mexico; and
  5. Maine.

Washington, D.C. ranked at the bottom of the list for nurses, followed by:

  1. New York;
  2. Hawaii;
  3. Louisiana;
  4. Oklahoma; and
  5. Alabama.

Nevada was No. 1 for opportunity and competition, while Washington, D.C. ranked last on that metric. Minnesota ranked No. 1 for work environment, while Ohio ranked last.

According to the report, some states fared better in one of the two ranking categories than they did in the other. For example, while Nevada ranked No. 1 in the opportunity and competition category, it ranked No. 42 for work environment. Conversely, New Hampshire ranked No. 2 in the work environment category, but No. 42 in the opportunity and competition category.

Experts have positive outlook for nursing

WalletHub spoke with two experts about the biggest challenges facing nurses today, as well as the long-term outlook for the nursing field.

Janet Rico, assistant dean of the nursing graduate programs at Bouve College of Health Sciences' School of Nursing at Northeastern University, listed a number of challenges facing the nursing workforce today, including a lack of diversity in the workforce, staffing issues, and an increase in complex and acutely ill patients.

However, Rico said the long-term outlook for nursing is "excellent" as the need for nurses will continue to increase. "Many of the issues facing health care are issues best addressed by [nurses]; improving access, assessing and managing acute and chronic illnesses, patient education, and coordination of care," she said.

Edna Cadmus, a clinical professor at the Rutgers University's school of nursing, said the complex challenges associated with mental health issues and the opioid epidemic represent some of the biggest challenges for nurses today. Another top challenge is the constantly changing health care landscape, she said.

Like Rico, Cadmus had a positive long-term outlook on the field of nursing. "As we move toward more community based care, nurses have opportunities to move beyond the walls of hospitals to provide care in new settings and roles," she said. She added, "As the baby boomers retire we are seeing openings in operating rooms, ICUs, and [EDs] in the hospital setting. There are also greater needs for care of the older adult in long term care, assisted living, insurance companies, home care, and hospice" (Kiernan, "Best & Worst States for Nurses," WalletHub, 4/30).

5 ways to recognize nurses year-round

National Nurses Week, our annual traditional time to recognize and celebrate nurses, is just around the corner. But don't wait until Nurses Week—show your staff how much you value their professional work and appreciate their daily contributions regularly and often.

Sign up for our June 19 webconference to learn 5 ways to extend the spirit of nurses' week all year round.

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