Georgia ranks low on WalletHub analysis of best states for nurses

The healthcare industry is often exciting and lucrative. If you're a nurse however, your salary can greatly vary depending on where you live. These cities happen to pay nurses best.

Although No. 10 for opportunity, Peach State’s score for work environment held it back

During the past 18 months, the world has realized just how crucial nurses are to the healing process.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic and the industry’s projections for the future, WalletHub took stock of the industry to help registered nurses, particularly new graduates, pick a place to live that will bring success.

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In order to determine the best and worst states for nurses, the financial website compared the 50 states across two key dimensions: opportunity and competition, and work environment.

It then evaluated those dimensions using 22 relevant metrics. Each metric was graded on a 100 point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for nurses.

Only two states landed in the top 10 for both dimensions: Arizona, which finished No. 1, and Washington, which came in No. 2.

Georgia ranked high — No. 10 — for opportunity and competition. Its low rank for work environment, however, dropped it to nearly the bottom 10 overall. The Peach State finished No. 49 in the second dimension, making its overall ranking 38, with a score of 45.51.

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A recent survey by the International Council of Nurses found disruptions to education during the pandemic might worsen the nursing shortage, but Helen Baker, assistant clinical professor at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University, said the future is bright.

“The long-term outlook for the field of nursing is excellent,” she told WalletHub. “The role of nurses is expanding into many different areas — such as further work in primary care, telehealth, informatics, and case management. The field of nursing offers great opportunities for job security and fulfilling work.”

If states want to attract and keep the best nurses, however, they need to step up, she added.

“Local governments and health systems can pay them more and provide more leadership opportunities. Nurses need to be able to grow and lead if they are going to be kept in an organization,” she said.

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States and organizations should help nurses with work-life balance — “such as providing subsidized dependent care, house cleaning services, meal prep, etc,” Baker said. “The majority of nurses are women who have many responsibilities outside of their work. In addition, provide more flexible work schedules and ensure the nurses are adequately protected with PPE.”

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