In recent years it has become extremely difficult to find pediatric nursing jobs, especially in certain geographic areas. One case study in the state of Utah identifies some potential reasons why despite the general nursing shortage there are fewer pediatric nursing jobs available.

As economic conditions have worsened, many Americans are adopting new ways of life to deal with these unfortunate circumstances. In Utah, for the first time since 1993, the birth rate declined significantly between the year 2008 and 2009. Since newborn babies cause an increase in household expenses and also incur an opportunity cost of lost working time for the pregnant mother and expecting father this trend developed as a way for families to save money. One of the un-intended negative effects this trend had was to reduce demand for pediatric nurses.

Since many pediatric nurses work part-time and take time off for instances such as extended vacation or maternity leave they are more flexible to adjust their work hours upwards when they desire to earn more money. Since small increases in demand for pediatric nursing services can easily be met by the existing pediatric nursing workforce this limits opportunities for new pediatric nurses to secure full-time employment positions. Demand can also be met by off-work registered nurses choosing to re-enter the workforce. Since these nurses have previous work experience and relationships with healthcare employers they are in an advantageous position to obtain work over a less experienced recent grad nurse.

When overall demand for registered nurses was higher pre-2008 it was easier to land a job in a nursing specialty field such as pediatrics. However, as the economy has stiffened and competition for nursing jobs has increased, many nurses are applying for any opening they can find, regardless of which specialty area the position might be in. This will make it increasingly difficult for nurses seeking employment in one particular field as the number of competing applicants will be high.

Another limitation for those seeking pediatric nursing jobs is that they are limited to finding employment in hospitals or private doctor’s offices. They cannot take advantage of the many nursing job opportunities that exist in nursing homes and assisted living facilities because these types of places do not treat children. This can further limit their current job options, as well as future opportunities that will arise as a result of baby boomers demanding more healthcare services.

While overall nursing job outlook is predicted to increase over the next decade, it is un-clear exactly how pediatric nursing jobs will fare, especially since much of the nursing job growth is fueled by senior citizen healthcare demand.