Nursing becomes most in-demand job in Minnesota during pandemic

There is an urgent need for registered nurses and nursing assistants in Minnesota, according to the state’s employment agency.

Many hospitals are dealing with staffing shortages due to the pandemic. Mayo Clinic, Allina Health and CentraCare have all reported losing staff members who tested positive for COVID-19, mostly due to community spread.

It comes at a time when the COVID-19 hospitalization rate is still very high, with nearly 200 new patients being admitted to hospitals across Minnesota every day.

According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), ‘registered nurse’ is the most in-demand job in the state right now with 3,203 openings. The wage for these positions ranges from $32.66 to $45.62 per hour.

Nursing assistants are the second most sought after workers in Minnesota with 2,387 jobs available at a wage of $14.90 to $19.29 per hour.

According to DEED, nursing assistants typically work under the direction of nursing staff and "provide immediate patient care such as feeding, bathing, dressing, grooming, and moving patients, as well as basic health care procedures such as taking blood pressure and temperature. Nursing assistants (NAs) are most likely to work in nursing and residential care facilities, assisted living facilities and retirement communities, home health care services, and in smaller numbers, at hospitals."

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The HealthPartners system, which includes Regions Hospital in St. Paul and Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS it has more than 500 permanent openings for nursing and nursing support roles across the organization. They also have another 100 temporary nursing positions available.

"The medical field, indeed, does have a lot of need right now. It’s a chance not only to make a good wage but also to help your fellow Minnesotans at a really critical time, and we certainly hope more people think about that as a direction to go," DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said.

In this time of need, the state has waived requirements for nursing assistants, allowing people to learn on the job instead.

Grove said these roles may be a viable alternative for people who are currently laid off from the service and hospitality industries.

"The same kind of skills that you would need to work in the service industry — which is one of the hardest-hit industries that has the most workers unemployed — are the same kind of skills you’d apply to a job like that: the emotional intelligence, the ability to care for somebody, the ability to pick up on cues and be a helpful hand in a moment of crisis," Grove said.

Some of the RN and CNA roles are permanent, while others are temporary to help fill the immediate staffing issues at hospitals and care facilities.

"Changing careers is hard. This idea of going from one field that you’re used to to another field you might not have ever dreamed of entering is kind of a daunting task," Grove said. "One of the things we want people to know is there’s help for you. We at the state of Minnesota have resources to help people transition to jobs."

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CareerForce is a free tool, offering Minnesotans consultations with job counselors, resume building and practice interviews.

"It’s a time for Minnesotans to maybe get a little more creative and nimble on what they can do for work in the short-term," Grove said, "and then reevaluate long-term as we come out of this pandemic."