The $2.8 trillion healthcare industry in the United States is so large that it’s practically an economy in itself. It is poised to grow – and change – dramatically over the next decade.

In fact, seven of the ten fastest growing careers are in healthcare, with Registered Nurses (RNs) and Nurse Aides in especially high demand. The Labor Department projects the addition of about 440,000 new job openings for RNs through 2024, and nearly 700,000 retirements in the field. Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) are also projected to grow faster than average through 2026. This makes a nursing degree a sure bet.

Sound investment

It’s a bet that pays off. Nursing is among the best paid healthcare professions, with a relatively smaller education and training investment. In 2018, RN median pay stood at $71,730 per year, or $34.48 per hour.

RNs are licensed by the state, but they also typically hold either an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in nursing. Many begin with a two-year degree and work their way up the education and pay ladders while working in the field.

Changes ahead

The demand for new healthcare professionals is due to some obvious – and some maybe not-so-obvious – reasons.

First, and most obvious: A generational changing of the guard is underway. The Baby Boom population is aging and they need more healthcare services.

There are more Americans over the age of 65 than at any other time in US history, and by 2030, about one in five Americans, 69 million people, will be elderly. About 80 percent of this population has at least one chronic condition, according to the National Council on Aging.

An increasing amount of nurses are coming into retirement age themselves, creating enormous demand for replacements. About a third of the workforce, around one million RNs, is currently older than 50.

The American Nursing Association projects a whopping 1.2 million openings will emerge for RNs through 2022, and by 2025, Vanderbilt University researchers estimate the vacancies will be “more than twice as large as any nurse shortage experienced since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in the mid-1960s.”

Another major factor: People are living longer and more active lives, so the kinds of healthcare services in demand are changing. Physical therapists and nurses will play a big role in the next decade.

Preventive care is putting nurses on the front line, as people become more educated about living healthier lives. Obesity and diabetes are expected to be as much a focus of preventive care as they are of treatment in the coming years.

“As the healthcare industry rapidly advances in technology and services, the nursing faculty at College of The Albemarle continually evolve with the changes to offer the very best instruction for our students. Our faculty members ensure that students develop the skills necessary to be prepared to enter the workforce,” said Robin Harris, Dean, Health Sciences and Wellness Programs. “Through rigorous courses, labs, simulations, and clinical hours in a wide variety of facilities across all 7 counties of our service area and southeastern Virginia, our students graduate with the competencies and knowledge of their important role as patient care providers and advocates for health.”

COA RN to BSN Step Center

The Strategic Transition in Education Progression (STEP) Center at COA is focused on recent Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) graduates as well as Registered Nurses (RNs) within the community. We want to aid in your academic progression by promoting your completion of Registered Nursing-Bachelor of Science in Nursing/Master of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN/MSN) pre-requisite courses and streamling the transition into RN-BSN/MSN programs based on your individual needs and academic history.  The STEP Center at COA can help you identify which RN-BSN program best fits your needs and can guide you through the prerequisite identification and completion process at COA.

COA also partners with East Carolina University (RIBN) and Old Dominion University to offer our ADN students the option to simultaneously take classes toward a BSN, while currently enrolled in the ADN program at the college

Contact 252-335-0821, ext. 2325 for more information on the RN to BSN STEP Center.  Visit to learn more about the nursing program and how to apply.