Nursing Industry in Need of New Hires

MONTGOMERY, AL., (WSFA) -- Sarah Hodgins has cut hair for 15 years, but decided is was time to do something different. "Being a single parent and raising a daughter, I decided I needed more education," she said.

She heard about the shortage of nurses and decided to trade in her shears for a stethoscope. Hodgins said, "It opens more opportunities."

Baptist South Chief Nursing Officer Cynthia Barginere and her staff got creative when it came to getting nursing candidates to visit the hospital. "We have offered I-pods and gas cards," she said.

With 50 to 60 open positions for registered nurses, Barginere admits it's a challenge to provide patients with adequate care.  She told WSFA 12 News, "We also have incentives for our nursing staff to work the additional shifts to make we have the staff available to take care of our patients."

Just like the shortage of nurses, there's a shortage of nursing instructors. Auburn Montgomery Associate Dean of Nursing Dr. Ramona Lazenby says word of the shortage created a spike in enrollment and now there's a shortage of teachers. "Two agencies did give us funding to add two more faculty so we were able to increase our enrollment," Lazenby added.

More nursing instructors means more nurses and fewer openings at hospitals like Baptist.

Other hospitals across the country are offering new nurses televisions, cars and even homes. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts about 233,000 additional registered nursing jobs will open for every year through 2016.