Nursing shortage expected - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

7/14/10

Nursing shortage expected

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By Michael Slother - email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The Texas Department of State Health predicts a shortage of more than 70,000 nurses by 2020. As the baby boomers hit retirement, they're going to need health care. 

"I think they're going to have an effect most strongly on the health care sector. Nurses are leaving the profession because they're retiring so were getting kind of a double whammy because one were losing them in the workforce and two were picking them up as patients," said University Medical Center Vice President Greg Bruce.  

UMC is well equipped to handle operations right now, but it's the future that concerns them. At the Texas Tech Nursing School they too are aware of the predicted shortage. Right now, students are having trouble finding jobs because many of the nurses are baby boomers and haven't retired yet.

Once they do retire, nurses will be in high demand, and for that reason Tech made some changes to the curriculum. They've gone from requiring six semesters to four semesters. For those who think that makes the program easier- think again. Students must take more hours in those four semesters. The good news is that they'll be out two semesters earlier and ready to start working- before the shortages start.

Dr. Ashcraft, a nursing professor at Tech, says that nurses are entering a very demanding field. She also says that even though there may be a shortage, admissions standards are still very high.

"When I graduated I don't think I was as smart as those students that I teach here today. I think they're smarter. They have to know so much more," Ashcraft said.

Nurses already in the field say their job is stressful as it is. They rely on the other staff as a team effort to make sure every patient receives an intimate level of care. After an increase in patients or a shortage of nurses, that may not be possible.

"We expect to be able to give this kind of care to everyone and that's what we want to do as nurses, so if you're short staffed or you have all these patients you're not able to do that and then the next concern when you're not able to do the little things, is there's safety concerns," said UMC nurse Kristi Slagle.

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