Shelia Kyle, WVCN Board Member Interviewed on Nursing Shortage

Herald Dispatch, Huntington, WV

HUNTINGTON – From Huntington to Morgantown to Pikeville, Kentucky, hospitals across the Tri-State are in need of nurses to meet demand.

“Due to rapid growth” and “due to growing demand,” ads recruiting nurses, especially specialty nurses, have popped up recently.

Pikeville Medical Center is offering a $25,000 signing bonus and free housing if you live 75 miles away from the city.

“There is a nursing shortage here in the Tri-State and across the nation,” said Angela Henderson-Bentley, manager of public relations at St. Mary’s Medical Center, which operates the St. Mary’s School of Nursing. “St. Mary’s has responded by devoting more resources to retaining and recruiting nurses.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. The bureau credits this to a multitude of reasons, including an aging population, greater access to health care and need for greater patient education of conditions.

Moreover, the number of nurses retiring had begun to exceed the number of nursing school graduates in some parts of the country, the Wall Street Journal reported last week. The article noted that during the recession, many older nurses delayed their retirement, but as the economy improves, more of those nurses are beginning to retire.

Diane Alcorn, longtime nurse at Marshall Health, said she believes the shortage is in part due to government and regulatory body regulations.

“Physicians are graded on outcomes,” Alcorn said. “It takes a lot of extra paperwork. To decrease their burden, some of that is shifted to the nursing staff.”

Hospitals employ half of the nation’s almost 3 million nurses, and Alcorn said short staffing can affect the patients.

“Nurses then only do priority things,” she said. “Some services will not receive attention they need, like education, which is very important. Nurses may not be able to do that as well as we need to because we have more urgent needs.”

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@TaylorStuckHD.