Oh, Nurse!

ABC News' Stu Schutzman reports:

It's reminiscent of better times, much better times. Imagine a competition for job applicants in any sector of the economy today. Well there is. According to the AP there are amazing opportunities for applicants to walk away with cash and prizes, for what? Just for showing up to consider taking a job as a nurse. The health care industry is so desperate for qualified nurses says the AP, it's rolling out the red carpet; offering champagne, free cars, vacations and a host of incentives just to get potential nurses into the tent.

"We really try to get as creative as we can," said one Milwaukee area recruiter, "It's a tough position to fill."

Tough because salaries are so low and working conditions so dismal, the industry faces a huge shortfall in qualified nursing applicants every year. The government says of the more than 230,000 nursing jobs that open up every year, more than 30,000 go unfilled and thousands more leave.

It's not just hospitals but nursing homes, assisted living centers and countless other health care facilities across the country offering free gas, flat screen TVs, even $1,000 shopping sprees just to get nurses in the door to talk. But talk is cheap, say many nurses who feel they are still overworked, underpaid and burned out before their time.

Still, it's ironic in these times of layoffs and near double-digit unemployment, that any industry needs to lure applicants into potential jobs. But if you're finishing nursing school this year, at least you can graduate with a healthy dose of optimism.

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