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Nursing shortage solutions: How Nightingale College is trying to help bridge the gap in supply and demand

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 9:57 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alarm bells have been ringing in America about a nursing shortage since before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as many as half a million registered nurses could retire in the United States by the year 2022. That number combined with an aging population and increasing demand is expected to require 1.1 million new Nurses to maintain a strong health care system, according to that same report.

Here in Alaska, the numbers are especially grim. A Bureau of Health Workforce report conducted prior to the pandemic projected that the last frontier will be one of the top five states in terms of the need for nurses. By BHW metrics, Alaska could face a shortage of 5,400 Nurses in less than ten years time.

In an effort to service that need, a new program from Nightingale College is now available to students in the state. Nightingale College is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. The bulk of their nursing program is conducted online and all hands-on interactions are taken care of via a partnership with area health care providers.

According to the school’s Executive Vice President Jonathan Tanner, the program has been available in Alaska for about one year and there are currently 73 students in the state enrolled. Most of those students, Tanner says, are based in Anchorage but some of them live in more remote parts of the state and that is a key demographic Nightingale College is looking to cater to.

“We’ve been working on this distance education model for about ten years. The one thing we know for sure is that if we can educate them locally, they’ll stay local but when you take someone out of that community or have them move to be educated it’s very difficult, sometimes, to get them to go back,” Tanner said.

Snow Yang, a student in the Nightingale nursing program, spoke with Alaska’s News Source about the desire to become a nurse at a time of need.

“My goal is to work with babies, around that section, you know ped’s (pediatrics), mother baby unit, basically NICU. I’ve always believed that you never know, maybe one day you’re saving the kid that kid is going to be United States President right? So you’ve just got to get your leg in there and give out the best to all these people who need it,” Yang said.

Nightingale isn’t the only institution to offer online nursing programs in the state and the University of Alaska Anchorage has its own more traditional program.

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