Nursing shortage brings higher wages, more opportunities for nurses

By: Kristen Cosby
By: Kristen Cosby

Perhaps the biggest need in health care is nurses.

News 12's Kristen Cosby is here to explain why there's a shortage and how some are trying to fill it.

Nurses make up the largest health care occupation--there are 2.4 million jobs.

Now, more than ever, young people are needed to fill them.

Chris Kinsler is studying at Augusta State University to be a nurse.

The field looks enticing.

“The pay is increasing,” Kinsler says. “There are so many opportunities you can go anywhere, working in any field that you want and sky's the limit.”

Big offers from an industry that has a big need.

Baby boomers made up most of the country's nurses, and many of them are retiring.

“We've haven't done a good job until now recruiting young people into the profession, so the pipeline's a little bit low right now,” says Charlotte Price, the nursing chair at Augusta State University.

She's working to fill the need.

Just six years ago, she barely had any students.

“I remember when we pretty much took whoever applied,” she says.

But that's changing at ASU. The recruiting is working and last year 300 people applied for 50 student openings.

This school year the department started offering a program that lets licensed practical nurses become registered nurses in a just a year--cutting off a year of schooling.

The demand for nurses is expected to only get bigger.

“There'll always be jobs for nurses, everywhere. Every hospital is hiring. There are five hospitals in this area and they all need nurses,” says Kinsler.

According to USA Today, hiring opportunities for registered nurses are expected to grow by 27 percent by 2014.

The growth is said to be driven by the high number of nurses who are retiring.

Rapid growth is expected in hospital outpatient facilities.

Registered nurses make up the largest health care occupation.

The median annual salary for nurses in may 2004 was more than $52,000.

To learn more about the nursing job outlook, check out As Seen on 12.

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