Navigating Nursing Profession: Long hours, Risk of Assault and Injury, but plenty of jobs. Which States are Best?

Discover the top 10 states for nursing graduates to start their career. Learn about the best and worst states for nursing jobs, based on WalletHub's report comparing all 50 states and D.C. across 14 metrics.

Navigating Nursing Profession: Long hours, Risk of Assault and Injury, but plenty of jobs. Which States are Best?
Nurses: The Heart of Healthcare 💙

In honor of National Nurses Week, we reflect on the invaluable contributions of nurses to healthcare and the lives they touch. Over the past three years, nursing professionals have been a constant source of support and care for countless individuals, including the author's own experience with their father's health journey.

Nursing's Vital Role:

 Nurses are the unsung heroes in healthcare, providing essential care and support in various settings, especially in long-term care facilities. They oversee certified nursing assistants (CNAs) who deliver daily, hands-on care. While the job can be physically demanding and often thankless, exceptional nurses earn the respect of their CNAs and maintain efficient, well-run facilities.

The Growing Demand for Nurses:

With 11,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day, the demand for nurses is at an all-time high. Nurses are generally well-compensated, but the profession is far from easy. Some hospitals still employ a rigid, authoritarian management style, deterring potential applicants. Additionally, certain states struggle with crippled healthcare systems and unfavorable working conditions, dissuading nurses from practicing there.

Best and Worst States for Nursing Graduates:

WalletHub's comprehensive report written by John Kiernan , ranking states and the District of Columbia, reveals the best and worst places for recent nursing graduates to start their careers. The top 10 states for nurses include Washington, Illinois, Texas, Oregon, Iowa, California, Minnesota, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. Conversely, the lowest-ranked states are New Jersey, North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, New York, South Carolina, Alabama, Hawaii, Louisiana, and the District of Columbia.

 You can read the full report with the complete list by clicking here.


WalletHub's rankings are based on 14 metrics, including starting and average salaries for nurses, the number of healthcare facilities per 100,000 residents, medically underserved areas, projected elderly population, educational opportunities, nursing job openings, nurse-to-resident ratios, projected competition, and mandatory overtime restrictions.

Challenges Faced by Nurses:

Nurses without bachelor's degrees are increasingly opting for long-term care facilities due to higher pay, leading to staff shortages in hospitals. Workplace violence, lack of resources, including equipment and staffing, and mandatory overtime exacerbate stress and compromise patient care. These issues not only affect nurses' well-being but also prompt some to leave the profession.

The Call for a Culture of Safety:

During National Nurses Week, the American Nurses Association emphasizes the importance of a culture of safety in healthcare settings. Registered nurses rank sixth among all professions for musculoskeletal injuries resulting in missed work days, with many injuries occurring due to patient lifting. Preventable adverse events are responsible for a significant number of patient deaths each year.

The Role of Unions:

Many nurses engage with unions to address shortcomings in healthcare. However, the effectiveness of these unions varies. While unions can advocate for better pay and working conditions, they may not always be successful. Union dues and the moral aspect of nurses advocating for their rights can be contentious issues.


“Hospital managements have to look at profits,” Khubchandani said. “Therefore, for them, every employee can sometimes be just a number. Practices such as employee layoffs, fewer salary raises, and increasing workloads for employees are used by hospital managements to make profits. If there are unions, nurses can certainly advocate for themselves and demand salary raises and better social protection in their jobs."
“The bad side is that most unions will not be or are not effective. Most of the times, hospital and healthcare facility management will do as they prefer. In addition, unions need heavy dues and fees, which may not be well appreciated by nurses. Finally, the moral argument may go against nurses if they demand something by forming unions – aren’t nurses supposed to help? Care? Serve? Why would they make a union for example, for greater rewards?”


 Nursing is a demanding yet vital profession in American healthcare. The best states for nursing careers provide opportunities and favorable conditions, while others face significant challenges. The role of unions in addressing these challenges is debated, but the need for state and federal oversight to ensure safe and equitable working environments remains a pressing concern. Share your thoughts on the state of nursing care in America, whether you are a nurse or a consumer, as we continue to celebrate and support the remarkable work of nurses during National Nurses Week.

Read More: Male Nurses Provide a Need, make a Good Living (Note: Marine Combat veteran turned nurse John Lanning, mentioned in this link, worked wonders with my dad)

Related News: WalletHub ranks where doctors can expect to fare best

What are your thoughts on the state of nursing care in America? Are ypu a nurse or a consumer? Help others realize that they are not alone. Submit Your Caregiver Story
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