Monday, April 9, 2012

Economy hides possible impending shortage of nurses

Just like in other professions, the down economy is being blamed for a current abundance of nursing graduates. It’s a stark contrast from five years ago when nursing graduates were getting large bonuses to hire on, said Bridgette Berkeley, and intensive care unit nurse at Ogden Regional Medical Center.

But those close to the situation say the current abundance of nurses is only a temporary problem.

“We are fortunate in Utah, and especially in the Ogden area, to have enough nurses to take care of our population,” said Susan B. Thornock, interim chairwoman of the Weber State University School of Nursing.

“I can say that today, but that cannot be guaranteed for tomorrow or next month or next year.”

Thornock said cutting back on the number of nursing students would be the wrong course of action, locally or nationally.

She said “The Future of Nursing,” a 2010 national report by the Institute of Medicine and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, looked closely at how to best supply the country’s need for nurses.

“They encouraged schools and colleges of nursing to not decrease the number of students they presently educate but to increase the level of education,” she said.

Thornock said Weber State has continued to admit the same number of associate degree RNs but increased the number of post-licensure bachelor of nursing students.

Elizabeth Later, chief nursing officer at Ogden Regional, said both the aging population and an aging nursing workforce are matters of concern.

Later said the need for nurses will increase greatly about the time many will be leaving the profession as the baby boomer population ages. Standard Examiner