More nurses, educators needed in state, nation

Published 11:58 pm Wednesday, May 9, 2018

This week is National Nurses Week, set aside to recognize nurses for their work. If nurses feel appreciated this week, they should expected to be more appreciated in the future.

That’s because what is considered a nursing shortage now is expected to grow, at least in part because there’s a shorting of nursing instructors.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, U.S. nursing schools turned away more than 64,000 qualified applicants to nursing programs in 2016 because there was an insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites and classroom space.

It’s a shortage of which LBW Community College is aware.

“The [number of] faculty at nursing schools is definitely declining,” April Wise, LBW nursing division chair, said. “I think it is harder and harder to get qualified teachers nowadays.”

Johnson & Johnson recently launched the Campaign for Nursing’s Future, an effort that uses TV commercials, videos, a website, and brochures to tout the benefits of this career. And public-private partnerships and incentives have been established to encourage nurses to become nurse educators.

“One area that we don’t have a problem in is enrollment,” Wise said. “We are at full capacity with people on the waitlist.”

Wise said that even with the nurse shortage, LBW officials do not think they will have a problem finding teachers for their students.

“We will find qualified faculty to take their positions,” Wise said.

The United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast, first published by the American College or Medical Quality in 2011, projected that by 2030, Alabama would have a shortage of 8,212 nurses. In population-dense neighboring Florida, the number was projected at a shortage of 128,364 nurses.

Meanwhile, local health care organizations have been trying to make their current nurses feel appreciated this week.

Mizell Memorial Hospital just had two nurses retire, but was able to rehire two more that are still in the training level.

“We have several openings for nurses,” Sherry Jinks said. “We go to different schools and make sure to recruit by offering different packages and programs.”

Jinks said that there is definitely a higher need for nurses right now.

“I honestly think this is a great place to work because nurses stay here for a long time,” Jinks said. “Some retire with 25 years under their belt and have been with us for the entire time.”

The Alabama Department of Labor’s Labor Market Information Division reported in April there were 1,781 help wanted ads for registered nurses in March, a number that was almost unchanged in the course of a year. The average hour wage for nurses is $28.14.