Survey of Nurse Employers in California, Fall 2016


Lela Chu, Joanne Spetz and Tim Bates 

July 13, 2017

This report summarizes the findings from a survey of general acute care hospital employers of registered nurses (RNs) in California conducted in fall 2016. This is the seventh annual survey of hospital RN employers; together these surveys provide an opportunity to evaluate overall demand for RNs in the state, and changes that have occurred as the economy in California has recovered from the economic recession that started in late 2007. The survey also collects information specific to the hiring of newly graduated nurses because they are at particular risk for unemployment during a weak labor market. The data obtained in this survey reveal very strong overall demand for RNs across California, a preference for hiring experienced nurses, and consequently a lack of positions available for newly graduated RNs.

As components of healthcare reform continue to be implemented, the population across the state grows older, and more nurses reach retirement age, the demand for RNs – including new graduates – will continue to rise. It is essential that programs be established and expanded through which new graduates can use and develop their knowledge and skills to ensure an adequate supply of RNs in the future. This may include expanded efforts by employers to develop the skills of new graduates and to fill positions that are normally reserved for experienced nurses. Without these efforts, California’s strong investment in nursing education may be lost.

Report Highlights:

  • There is a continuing improvement in labor market conditions faced by California's RNs.
  • The sharp divide in demand for experienced RNs versus new RN graduates remains.
  • 66% of responding hospitals reported an increase in their employment of new RN graduates since fall 2015.
  • More hospitals reported increased employment of temporary and traveler RNs.
  • 89% of hospitals reported hiring new RN graduates in fall 2016.
  • 25% of responding hospitals reported that RN graduates are working non-RN positions.
  • 53.8% of hospitals report a preference for baccalaureate-trained RNs.
  • Approximately 60% of all hospitals reported expectations that RN employment would increase in 2016.