November 17, 2014

Oklahoma Nursing Shortage Will Worsen Official Say


Oklahoma State Officials say a nursing shortage in the state will get alot worse before it gets better. The Oklahoma State Department of Commerce predicts a shortage of over 31-hundred hospital nurses within five years. KTEN's Hailee Holliday reports.

That number doesn't count the nurses at doctors' offices, nursing homes, home health care, schools or clinics. Officials say the shortage will get worse in the upcoming years as baby boomers get older and current nurses retire. Nursing officials at Mercy Memorial Hospital in Ardmore say they have definitely struggled with nursing numbers in the last six months.Chief Nursing Officer, Melinda Laird, says,  "It is a problem across the nation; it's not unique to us. One of the things that probably makes it more unique to us being in a rural facility, we don't have a nursing program in our community so we pull from students locally as will as people moving here."State officials say part of the problem is a shortage of teachers in nursing schools across Oklahoma. They say Oklahoma colleges admitted just 68% of qualified applicants to bachelor's degree nursing programs in 2004 because there wasn't enought faculty to teach them. Even local colleges, such as East Central University in Ada, say they could accept more nursing students, but they are terribly under staffed in the nursing department. Officials say with May being National Nursing Month, they hope Oklahoma nurses can pull together even though they have challenges with the nursing shortage.

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