For the first time, registered nurses top the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics list of occupations with the largest projected 10-year job growth. Nurses have been on the list for some time but never as No. 1. The bureau's latest projections put the demand for registered nurses at 2.9 million in 2012, up from 2.3 million in 2002. However, the total number of job openings, reflecting job growth and the need to replace nurses who have left the industry, will be more than 1.1 million from 2002 to 2012, the bureau said. Nursing organizations called for sustained efforts to recruit people into nursing, retain existing nurses and expand educational capacity. Enrollment in baccalaureate nursing programs has risen in the past three years, but there remain too few faculty, classrooms and clinical sites to handle all qualified applicants, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing said. President Bush's fiscal 2005 budget proposal includes about $147 million for nursing workforce development, up $5 million from 2004 funding. -- by Julie Piotrowski
RNs become the No. 1 workforce demand
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