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Foreign nurses needed to help with shortage

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March 30, 2004

Americus- It won't be long until Lou Barr is applying what's on this quiz to his every day job.

He graduates from Georgia Southwestern's nursing program in May.

"I always liked helping people and this was my avenue to help people," Barr said.

In a nation that needs nurses, it won't be hard for any of the students to find jobs. That's why some lawmakers want the Department of Homeland Security to postpone regulations that may keep foreign nurses from coming to work in the U.S.

"Until such time that our nursing schools are going to be able to graduate enough individuals to make sure that we have enough nurses in this country," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss, (R) Georgia.

Finding students to fill the desks is not always the problem. It's just as hard to find nurses who want to get their doctorates and end in front of the classroom, teaching the skills they've been practicing for years.

"A nurse, with let's say a baccalaureate degree makes more in a hospital than a nurse with a doctoral degree makes at an academic institution," said Maria Warda, dean of Georgia Southwestern's School of Nursing.

Warda has been dean for three years. She started with 12 professors. She's down to eight, with two more retiring in the next two years.

"The few that we have will be retiring in vast numbers in the next five to ten years," Warda said. "We have no idea what we're going to do with that kind of crisis."

That's why lawmakers should be worrying about attracting nurses to the college classroom.

"I mean you can work with kids, all the way from older adults to babies. There's many avenues you can take with nursing," Barr said.

So there are plenty of professors to teach the student who will fill this seat after Barr leaves to do a much needed job.

posted at 10:43 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com