9/19/02 - Nursing Shortage - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

KFVS12 VIEWPOINT WITH MIKE SMYTHE

9/19/02 - Nursing Shortage

Watch for my ViewPoint segments on KFVS12 normally scheduled Tuesday & Thursday mornings following the Breakfast Show, and Wednesday & Sunday nights following Heartland News At Ten.

An alarming statistic made the news this week and, quite frankly, something drastic needs to be done about it. Our country has a growing, and I mean growing, shortage of nurses.

Currently, if my source is correct, there are more than 126,000 vacancies in the nursing profession and hospitals are forced to look to other countries for help. The experts say this shortage could reach 800,000 by the year 2020. Let’s face it, the baby boomers are reaching senior status and many of us plan to be around for a long time. Baby boomers, just because of the size of the group, will require more health care than other generations. But health care is a priority for every American in every age bracket, and the need to solve the nursing shortage crisis cannot be taken lightly.

Last year 23,000 foreign residents took the licensing examination to become American hospital nurses. Only about 47% passed. More than 50% of those that took the exam came from the Philippines. Foreign nurses do have a problem in this country. Many times they are unfamiliar with the high-tech machinery in United States hospitals. However, the pay in America is much greater than what they can get in other countries.

Nurses are critical to our health care system. It’s a tough job and not everyone is cut out for that type of work. I applaud the effort made to recruit and train foreign nurses, but I'm certainly not sure recruiting outside of the United States is the complete answer. We need to keep our highly trained nurses on the job and not let them go into other professions. After reviewing the problems with recruitment, I have found a new respect for these hard working, dedicated professionals. To the nurses who are on the job, many thanks! To those of you thinking about entering this critical profession, please do! Health care is a priority in America. Let’s keep it that way!

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