Amidst shortage, nursing licenses suspended

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News 12 First at Five, January 22, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Across the nation there's a nursing shortage, but that doesn't stop Georgia from suspending licenses.

"To not have the nurse, it would be very difficult to deliver the best care to those patients," said Leigh Mangum, the Vice President of Human Relations at Doctors Hospital.

Across the country, there is a shortage of nurses.

In Georgia, 30 nurses have their licenses suspended right now, and more than 150 have had a license revoked since 2006. And it's becuase they didn't keep up with payments on their student loans.

"The interest rate is very low and payments are stretched over a long period of time, so it's designed to be minimally intrusive into an individual's life, but things happen with individuals," said Mike Miller, the Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services at MCG.

He says there are a variety of reasons people default on loans.

"Illnesses in their family, their own illnesses, divorces happen, people are in auto accidents. There are a variety of reasons people might find themselves in a financial situation," he said.

At Doctors Hospital, some say losing a nurse is never easy.

"It's difficult to have turnover in nursing, in any area, but in nursing especially because of the amount," Mangum said.

She says at the hospital, it can cost $12,000 to $15,000 to lose and replace a nurse. That's not the only reason they don't like to see nurses go, though.

"Right now, we are in one of those times when we have many job opportunities for nurses, and the supply just is not as great," said Karen Swim, the Vice President Chief Nursing Officer.

Even with a national shortage, nurses have to pay their loans, or could face license suspension.

"If an individual isn't repaying a loan that means that money can't be loaned to another individual, so it would keep someone from the benefits of an education," said Miller.

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