Nursing shortage not helped by limited schooling - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Nursing shortage not helped by limited schooling

December 15, 2005

Albany- There's big demand for skilled nurses and limited resources at state universities and technical schools adds to the problem. Georgia's vacancy rate for registered nurses is one third higher than the national rate and is expected to grow. One Albany college is working hard to reverse that trend and sent 40 new nurses into the field Thursday night.

While nearly one in 11 nursing positions across the state goes unfilled, nurses graduating from Darton College like this father and son team are finding it easy to secure jobs.

"We have jobs awaiting us, We also work on the same floor at Phoebe right now and we'll probably continue to do that as R.N.'s after we graduate also," said David Tyson, a Darton nursing graduate.

"There's a major nursing shortage and it's just going to get worse," said Kim Cribb, Darton College Nursing Chairman.

The average age for a nurse is 50. Declining nursing faculty and aging baby boomers have increased the need. A 2005 survey of Georgia Nursing schools shows half of qualified students had to be turned away simply because of limited school capacities. That's why Darton has seen the need to grow.

"Because we have such a large number of people who are interested in the profession, we're actually taking an extra 100 students in January," said Cribb.

Darton does not usually admit nursing students in January. A recent I-CAPP grant started a new program that allows paramedics to work on their nursing certifications in just a years time and the Community Based Job Training Grant from the Department of Labor is also adding students at Darton.

"The new grant is to develop an online nursing program, so that non traditional students who maybe can not commute to one of our campuses maybe they have jobs or need a more flexible program they would be able to do it," said Cribb.

"I think now a days, you can just go to wherever the program is and let them know that you're interested and that you're willing to work the hours necessary and so no I really don't think so," said Necole Ducati, a Darton nursing graduate.

If you can get accepted into a program, students say the sky's the limit because of vacancy rates that range between five and 12 percent. The biggest need is in critical care and emergency departments, but R.N.'s pretty much can have their choice.

"There's a lot of different places I can go if I wanted to work, like I want to be a nurse anesthetist, but if I don't want to do that I can do a bunch of different stuff being a nurse," said Brian Tyson, a Darton nursing graduate.

Darton College says nearly 70 percent of the R.N.'s working in the health care industry in south Georgia have graduated with their degree from Darton College.

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