AUBURN, AL (WSFA) - For the past couple of years there has been a shortage of nurses across the state. Now, leaders in nursing from all across the state are convening to discuss the progress and issues being seen in the nursing field.
“Even though they’ve got 4.3 percent of our workforce, there’s still a great demand for even more nurses,” said Gov. Kay Ivey.
Experts say that although a nurse is one of the most trusted professions, there is a major shortage of nurses throughout Alabama.
“Nurses are the heartbeat of healthcare,” said Alabama State Nurses Association Annual Convention Executive Director John Ziegler. “They’re the largest workforce in healthcare, but a lot of nurses are starting to age out and retire. So, demand for nurses is continuing to increase while the supply of nurses is predicted to decrease.”
Experts say that one of the issues leading to the shortage right now is that they don’t have the proper staff to educate and train future nurses.
“Part of the issue with nurses is that our nursing schools have to have enough faculty in order to provide education that is adequate for our nurses, so that’s a challenge because you have to find nurses that are educated enough to be faculty,” said UAB Chief Nursing Officer Terri Poe. “So, the number of nurses accepted into our nursing programs, we would love to grow but we have to have the faculty to do that.”
“Now nurses can go to school for two, three, or four years after their BSN and make a lot of money. A lot more money as an advance practice nurse than they can as a teacher, as an educator. So, we don’t see as many people going into right out of college in their advance degrees, nurse education,” said Ziegler.
Experts also say that retention is a issue being faced right now and that hospitals are having a difficult time keeping nurses on staff due to an increase in traveling nurses.
Nursing professionals say the retention decline is in part due to a spike in traveling nurses.