Recruiting nurses is no longer the problem, training them is.
The News on 6 has learned nursing teachers are also in short supply. News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims says the health care industry has warned of a looming nursing shortage for years. 75% of all hospital vacancies are for nurses and their absence could affect your next hospital stay.
Some thought the cure was in the classroom, but that's just pointed to another problem. Gerri Ellison, OU-Tulsa Asst Dean of Nursing: "We're getting more applicants. They're better qualified. There's tremendous interest in nursing, but none of us have the faculty that we need to be able to teach them."
OU Tulsa is seeing record enrollments. They've got dozens of students on waiting lists, but a shortage of qualified faculty. Itâ€™s a nationwide trend. Nursing faculty are getting older and retiring or leaving education for more money in clinics. â€œIf you think just a couple of years ago we were trying to increase the interest in nursing and here they are and we can't take them in. It's very disappointing for us. It's disappointing for them."
But things maybe turning around, thanks to the federal government and Saint Francis Hospital. With more than one million dollars in grant money OU Tulsa's College of Nursing plans to expand this facility, hire more faculty and add more than 40 students over the next three years. Not only is OU Tulsa adding faculty, but they're also training nurses to become teachers. "As we start seeing more people choosing that pathway then that means help is on the way."
But we don't know if help will come soon enough to replace the thousands of nurses we're losing every day. The US Department of Labor says we will need more than one million new and replacement nurses by the year 2012.