A shortage of nurses in the United States has resulted in some hospitals and other health care providers in various parts of this country looking abroad to fill the void. We think there is another option: Encourage more Americans to become nurses.
State and federal officials are trying to get the word about nursing opportunities out to recent high school graduates, college students and people looking to make career changes. We here in the Upstate are more fortunate than other communities because East Tennessee State University, Milligan College and Northeast State Technical Community College offer quality nursing programs.
The nursing shortage is expected to grow as baby boomers age. Compounding the problem is the fact that nursing colleges and universities across the country are struggling to expand enrollment levels to meet the rising demand for nursing care.
The shortage is also costing long-term care facilities billions annually in recruitment and training expenses.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has been working with educators, policy-makers and newspapers to bring attention to this health care crisis. More must be done to entice young people into the nursing field. A failure to address this problem could lead to a crisis in terms of the quality of care dispensed in our hospitals and nursing homes.