Shortage of nurses & instructors may become bigger problem as health care mandates kick in

(KTIV) Siouxland has a shortage of nurses because there’s a shortage of instructors.  But there’s a shortage of instructors because nursing pays more. This problem may become even more serious as the Health Care law goes into effect.

Lizzie Vereen is in her second year at St. Luke’s College in the registered nursing program.  “I always knew I wanted to do something in the healthcare profession and decided I would get the best clinical experience and patient contact with a nursing degree,” Lizzie Vereen, a Nursing Student at St. Luke’s College said.

She is close to graduation and that’s good because across the nation, there is a critical need for more nurses.

“It is not as severe in Iowa as it is in other parts of the country. Particularly the western states, the southwestern states and then Florida, the more severe shortage,” Jodi Kolar, the Department Chair for Nursing Education at St. Luke’s College said.

But in order to have more graduates, there needs to be more qualified teachers. Kolar says across the nation the average instructor is 55 and many are ready to retire.

“We are in direct competition, the nursing faculty, with nurse practitioners because that’s been a growing field that has lessened the amount of faculty available to us because more nurses are going to nurse practitioner and less are going the faculty route,” Kolar said.

While these shortages are nothing new, for a student looking for a job, it’s a great time to enter the field.

“Obviously the nursing shortage is terrible but as a student who is graduating soon I see it as a lot of job opportunities pretty much everywhere. Then of course when I get into the nursing field, it’s going to be a lot of work to make up for that deficit,” Vereen said.

A cycle that Kolar says she doesn’t see changing in the near future.