10 best and worst states for nurses looking to relocate

Nurses continue to endure an ongoing pandemic, staffing shortages and high rates of burnout across the U.S. But as new graduates and nurses considering relocation start their search, they should keep in mind some states are less challenging than others.

WalletHub, a personal finance resource platform, scored all 50 states out of 100 points based on 20 metrics, like average annual and starting salaries, job openings and nurses per 1,000 residents. While states like Washington took first place for having plentiful job opportunities, many states were dragged down in score for the quality of their healthcare systems.

"Nurses looking to work within a certain state should check the job opportunities that are available, the income potential in the context of cost of living, but also the existing work environment in their field," says Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at WalletHub. "Burnout is a frequent issue for nurses, and things like mandatory overtime restrictions and the ratio of nurses to hospital beds should not be overlooked."

Read more: Tuition assistance benefits are helping one hospital recruit and retain nurses

Unfortunately, nurses won't be able to avoid staffing shortages, regardless of where they work,  given that an estimated 100,000 nurses quit during the pandemic nationwide, according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. But nurses should still avoid states where the sheer population and lower-quality hospitals will force them to overwork, notes Gonzalez. 

Here are the 10 best and worst states for nurses, according to WalletHub.

Best states for nurses:

1. Washington

2. Maine

Score: 60.83

3. New Mexico

Score: 59.91

4. Oregon

Score: 59.63

6. Minnesota

Score: 57.96

7. Montana

Score: 56.67

8. Arizona

Score: 56.36

10. Wyoming

Score: 55.17

Worst states for nurses:


Score: 41.85

3. Arkansas

Score: 43.49

4. Alabama

Score: 44.69

5. Mississippi

Score: 44.84

7. Nebraska

Score: 46.07

8. Tennessee

Score: 46.88

9. Vermont

Score: 47.34

10. Delaware

Score: 48.25