UAA School of Nursing weighs in on nursing shortage

Published: Nov. 30, 2017 at 3:00 PM AKST
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Numbers from the state show the health care industry is projected to continue as one of the top areas for job growth through 2024.

While job growth is good, some in the nursing field say meeting the demand for registered nurses can be challenging.

As students at University of Alaska Anchorage's School of Nursing are learning how to work with patients, it's knowledge upcoming graduates aim to put to good use in the work force.

Christina Egger says her hope is to work at Alaska Native Medical Center in one of their critical care departments. She loves what she's learning.

"I love that it's always changing and the group of people that I'm working with are supportive and helpful and they really encourage me to do my best, and interaction with the patients and talking to people every day and seeing different cases," Egger said.

Danielle Carlson hopes to work in Providence hospital's pediatric ICU, and says nurses play an important role in patient care.

"We are one-on-one with that patient the most amount of time during the day and we get to know their personalities, we see them at their worst and we see them at their best," Carlson said.

Arylis Scates said his goal is to work with Alaska Regional Hospital. Scates said it takes a lot of work and commitment to become a nurse.

"I think nursing in general is difficult," Scates said. "Getting your license is a difficult thing to get, it takes a lot of work a lot of time into it. It's not something that you can just go to school and passively work your way through you know, 'Cs get degrees,' kind of thing, it takes effort," Scates said.

The demand for nurses is expected to grow over the next seven years, according to Marianne Murray, director for UAA's School of Nursing.

"With our population getting older, we have a lot more need for sometimes high delivery of care into our outreach areas and long-term care facilities, which also require nursing care," Murray said. "Some of our nurses are getting older so from the projections it looks like we'll have about 5-6 percent of our nurses retire, so we also have to fill those needs as the nurses retire ."

Murray said there are some specific areas of need.

"Our small rural areas where we have our critical access hospitals, some of them are staffed with a lot of traveling nurses or nurses from other states because we don't have the Alaskan graduates to actually fill the spots," Murray said. "Another kind of need for nursing is specific nursing roles such as behavioral health nurses, nurses in I.C.U., E.R., those kind of areas."

While it may not be for everyone, for those who have the passion, it's a field with promising career prospects.