Last week Wallet Hub ranked Hawaii as the second worst state in the nation for nurses to work. I disagree.

The Wallet Hub report states there are few nursing job openings in Hawaii. What we know anecdotally, that nurses tend to remain in their positions once they secure them and that nursing is a prestigious career in Hawaii, is validated by our local research.

According to the Hawaii State Center for Nursing’s 2015 Nursing Workforce Report, there has been nearly 50 percent growth in the licensed nursing workforce in the state over the past decade and the majority of nurses indicate they intend to remain active as working nurses for at least 10 years showing growth in the workforce and stability in positions held. The UH System Hawaii Industry Sectors report also lists registered nurses as the most in demand occupation in the state.

The Wallet Hub report also notes that Hawaii has the lowest annual nursing salary when adjusted for cost of living. However, looking at salary alone, which Wallet Hub has reported in the past, Hawaii employers compensate nurses at one of the highest rates in the nation and the Hawaii Industry sectors report validates this.

The average nurse salary in Hawaii is 26 percent higher than the national average nurse salary. Employers are ensuring that Hawaii is a good place for nurses to work by accommodating for the high cost of living.

Most importantly, the State of Hawaii has one of the highest rates of nurses in the nation who hold bachelor’s degrees in nursing (68 percent). This makes Hawaii a leader in the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing recommendation that by 2020, 80 percent of nurses have a bachelor’s degree or higher  in nursing  in order to meet the increasing demands of an evolving health care system.

Between 2012 and 2015, more than 15 percent of nurses, or just over 1 in 7 of our registered nurses, have achieved higher educational degrees in the past three years after their initial nursing degree, and more have enrolled or graduated with additional nursing degrees since then. Going back to school is dedication and investment to one’s self and one’s professional practice.

I can’t imagine how we can achieve such great advancements in our nursing workforce, have the highest demand for nurses across all professions, and have the incredible growth in our nursing population, and be the second worst in the nation. Clearly, to me, the opposite is true. Hawaii’s nurses are passionate, driven, and a strong component of the healthcare team in Hawaii.

Happy Nurses Week to our nurses across the state. Your work improving the lives of others is valued and respected and as the Director of the Hawaii State Center for Nursing, I am humbled and honored each day to serve you.

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About the Author

  • Laura Reichhardt
    Laura Reichhardt, MS, APRN, NP-C is the Director of the Hawaii State Center for Nursing and an adult-geriatric nurse practitioner. The Center for Nursing is dedicated to ensuring Hawaii is the best place for nurses to work and believes that excellence in nursing practice and understanding our nursing workforce environment leads to quality care for the people of Hawaii.