Nurse shortage in the area - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Nurse shortage in the area

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Nurses continue to be in high demand in our area.

More trained nurses are needed to give care as well as to teach. There are about 80 job openings for registered nurses at Northwest Texas Hospital alone.

WTA&MU College of Nursing and Health Sciences Department Head Helen Reyes says, "In order to increase the number of students that we can take, we need nursing faculty."

Area nursing schools are working with Northwest to graduate more nurses. Especially, with health reform taking effect.

Reyes says, "There will be more people that are insured and that's a good thing. But then, we need more people to be able to provide primary care. Family nurse practitioners, they are educated at the master's and doctorate levels. They're advanced practice nurses. And they can help meet that need."

Nurse practitioners can help fill that gap for primary care. They're going to be needed more at clinics, churches, and schools with health reform, and these are places where they have to practice more independently.

So that's why they're pushing for nurses to get more education. Reyes says, "So few nurses that are doctorly prepared. We're all competing for the same few people across the nation."

Northwest Texas Healthcare System Chief Nursing Officer Becky Hunter says, "It's a challenge to recruit experienced nurses to Amarillo. So we have worked closely with the schools of nursing. There's on-going recruitment initiatives. We certainly do work on retention initiatives."

Major employers of nurses and schools are meeting every two months to ensure enough nurses are graduating.

Hunter says, "The schools of nursing are doing a good job in recruiting younger nurses into the profession. And that's good because we need that balance. Because there's going to be a large number of baby boomers over the next five to ten years retire from nursing."

The Institute of Medicine is asking universities and colleges to get the workforce of registered nurses up to 80% by 2020. They're needed at hospitals, for research, and to improve healthcare.

Jessica Abuchaibe, NewsChannel 10.