Nursing graduates discover medicine is not recession-proof

A few years ago, hospitals were offering nurses $10,000 signing bonuses, loan payoffs, even cars as incentives to battle a nursing shortage in Texas.

Today, some nursing school graduates say they're fortunate to find a job.

"It took me a year to find something, and it wasn’t easy," said Ann Karl, who graduated in 2008 and recently went to work for Huguley Memorial Medical Center in Burleson. "I think I must have hit the curve right when the hospitals were starting to slow down on hiring."

Karl is hardly alone.

Three years ago there were three job offers for every graduate, said Dr. Pamela Frable, director of nursing at Texas Christian University’s Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences. But at graduation last summer, there were more students without a job than ever before.

A surge of applicants from nursing schools and from other states, as well as more older nurses coming back into the work force, has increased competition for jobs, especially at the area’s large hospitals.

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