Rosseter and others insist that the job outlook is still bright for nurses overall and that the decline in nursing jobs in some regions is only temporary. The health care sector has continued to add jobs throughout the recession, and experts predict that in the next 10 to 15 years, the country will experience a shortage of nurses that could range from 260,000 to more than 1 million.
For now, Rosseter recommends that recent nursing graduates expand their job searches to look beyond sought-after positions at hospitals and consider jobs at nursing homes, home health aid agencies and other businesses.
Job candidates also could look across state lines: Rosseter said that states such as Texas, Missouri and North and South Dakota still face nursing shortages.
But not everyone is willing to travel. Some Minnesota nurse union members say they would never consider leaving their hospitals because conditions seem to be the same or worse elsewhere.
"The places that have the most trouble attracting and retaining nurses are places where conditions of care are critically unsafe," nurse Munn said. "Nurses feel tremendous guilt when they can't fill patient needs. I would never want to put myself in a situation like that."