Easing the Nursing Shortage

By: Philip Stewart Email
By: Philip Stewart Email

February 28, 2007

Officials say by 2012, there's a good chance there will only be enough nurses for two out of every three patients. That's why while visiting UVA on Wednesday, the governor announced plans to make the future look a little brighter.

"Nursing is about the only profession where, with a nursing degree, you can move to any place in the United States and have a job by noon," said Kaine.

"It's an impact on anyone in the commonwealth," said Dory Hulse, the Director of Communications at UVA's School for Nursing. "It's predicted to get far worse."

This year the general assembly, along with Governor Kaine, did something about it. They passed legislation that would hopefully ease the problem.

Under new legislation $200,000 will go toward nursing scholarships, and $750,000 will go to UVA to help qualifying students with loan assistance.

But the problem goes further.

"The most critical choke point on the system has been the lack of availability of either program space, or faculty to train those who want to be nurses," said Kaine.

UVA, for example, can only accept about one out of every six applicants to their program. They're limited by the size of their teaching staff.

And often times a registered nurse will make far less if they choose to teach.

That's why the third initiative passed this year targets instructors. Effective July 1, 2007, nursing faculty members in Virginia will see a ten percent salary increase.

"We're very grateful to the governor and to the state legislature for recognizing how important this is and supporting it," said Hulse.

Meanwhile, a handful of nursing schools in Northern Virginia are also expected to get special added funding for their students and their faculty members.

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