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Nursing senior Therese Parker is among a handful of students who feel that nursing job options have become somewhat more scarce over the past few years.

Now is a good time to be a student in the Nursing school — but the tough job market still leaves room for improvement.

According to employment projections released by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics last December, nursing is among the occupations expected to gain the most new job positions between 2008 and 2018. The report projected an increase of 581,500 jobs for registered nurses, which would amount to a 22-percent jump from 2008 levels.

Penn Nursing students agree that the employment opportunities in their field may be more promising than those of many of their peers. Still, some explained, nurses have not been immune to the recession’s effects and graduates face their own set of challenges.

Nursing senior Therese Parker said job options have become somewhat more scarce over the past few years, based on the experiences she has heard from graduates within the tight-knit Nursing community. “A few years ago, Penn nurses could basically work wherever they wanted,” she said. “Now it’s a little bit different.”

Nicole Marie De Luna, another Nursing senior, described a similar picture.

Coming from a family of Nurse Practitioners, including both of her parents and a number of extended relatives, De Luna said she has heard a lot of stories about hospitals being forced to close or cut back on programs like externships — typically paid work experiences in which Nursing students get to track Nurse Practitioners in a hospital setting. These programs are meant to complement clinical studies and often act as recruiting tools for hospitals.

As a recipient of the Alex Hillman Family Foundation Scholarship, De Luna knows which city she will be heading to next summer — she just needs to secure a job.

One of many options for Nursing students trying to plan ahead, the Hillman Scholarship offers about $50,000 in undergraduate tuition funds to students who qualify academically and are willing to commit to two years of employment in New York City after graduation.

Scholarship recipients are also responsible for finding a position within 100 days of receiving their bachelor’s degree, a process that may push De Luna to compromise some of the qualities she is looking for in a job.

“I’ll take whatever job is given to me — I feel like I can’t be picky,” she said.

After graduation, Parker will be turning to a different option to increase her job security: submatriculating into Penn Nursing’s masters program, where she hopes to study geriatric care. Submatriculation, which Parker said was encouraged by her Nursing advisers, allows undergraduates to take up to three graduate level courses during their junior and senior years and complete the program at their own pace, as long as they return to Penn within five years of earning their bachelor’s.

Nursing professor Jamille Nagtalon-Ramos, who teaches graduate courses for the Women’s Health Care Studies and Family Nurse Practitioner programs, wrote in an e-mail that at least 75 percent of her Women’s Health students over the past three years have been able to find jobs relevant to their master’s studies within the first year of seeking employment after graduation.

Nagtalon-Ramos believes that finding a passion for a particular field can be a major asset to students. “I am also a firm believer that doing what you really love instead of settling for something for the sake of being more ‘marketable’ will drive you to become a better clinician and provider,” she wrote.

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