Nursing Shortage Projected To Get Worse


As baby boomers continue to require more medical care as they age, the number of nurses needed to meet their needs may not be found.

Currently, the average age of a nurse in Ohio is 48. In addition, roughly four in 10 nurses nationwide will retire in the next 10 to 15 years.

One of the reasons is a lack of instructors.

"Over 40,000 qualified individuals were turned away from nursing programs and the reason is because we have max enrollment within all of our programs," said Andrea Lindell, Dean of the UC College of Nursing.

Lindell says the situation at her institution is in-line with the nationwide outlook.

"Our college of nursing in a seven year time period went from approximately 700 to 800 nursing students to 1,800," said Lindell. "We are filled to capacity because of the availability of our resources and the number of qualified faculty we have to teach."

So as more people require care but have fewer caregivers to treat them, Debbie Boerschig, a Nurse Practitioner for UC Health, fears the level of care will slip.

"Errors, I mean that would be the biggest thing I would be afraid of is making errors," said Boerschig.

Nursing numbers did come up this year with the economic downturn. More people entered the field and more people delayed retirement. Experts, however, say the growth will likely be short-term and will not be sustained when the economy recovers.

Lindell suggests the time is now to find a solution to the problem.

"I am very concerned that if we do not look to the future and plan for the future as to how we provide resources to establish a broader based number of nurses we will be increasingly faced with waiting for the qualified nurse, the professional nurse, to provide the quality of care that we're used to," said Lindell.

Copyright 2009 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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