Nurses, educators discuss future nursing shortage

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- It’s a profession that's expected to grow nearly 20% in the next 10 years.

In the coming years more nurses will be needed in the area and that has educators and employers looking to the future.

Local nursing programs like the one at Chippewa Valley Technical College say they have a one to three year waiting list to get in and every semester nearly 80 students graduate with degrees.

That may sound like a lot but these programs will need to expand in the future to meet the growing need.

“It’s what I have wanted to do since I was a little girl and I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Registered Nurse Elizabeth Bohl said.

For Elizabeth Bohl, who has worked as an R.N. at Sacred Heart Hospital for a year, nursing is more than a career.

Bohl is just one of the nurses that hit the pavement Wednesday to celebrate Nurse’s Week along the trails of Carson Park. The day is a time to thank the men and women who are there day in and day out to help us when we need it. In the coming years we'll need more nurses to treat the aging population.

“As the baby boomers retire we are going to see higher need for nursing professionals,” CVTC Associate Dean of Health Linda Krueger said.

Krueger says since she first started at CVTC she's seen all of the health care programs get bigger and the need for more nursing graduates is a shortage they are hoping to fill.

“We tend to admit 72 to 88 students a semester and then we graduate every semester 80 to 85 students,” Krueger said.

Even with a fresh batch of faces graduating every couple of months from CVTC’s Nursing Program, those in the business say the need for more help is still there.

“We are full almost every day of the week and it just keeps getting busier,” Registered Nurse Roxanne Mewhorter said.

It's not just quantity, it's quality. Despite the growing need, both nurses and educators say patient care will always be a top priority.

“We are still concerned with patient outcomes and that's where good nursing care comes in,” Krueger said.

“I like to see the patients and their families. You can see that you can make a difference and helped them. It’s always a push to go back to work,” Bohl said.

On top of a projected shortage in nurses in the future, four Wisconsin universities including UW-Eau Claire are offering a loan forgiveness program to students trying to get into nursing education. That program is meant to fill the growing need for nursing instructors.


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