Wisconsin faces possible nursing shortage, nursing students talk future

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The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development says the healthcare industry is growing quickly and so is demand for nurses.

Nursing schools are struggling to keep up with demand, citing a lack of instructors and not enough students to fill future roles.

Students at Bellin College say they’ve thought about their careers beyond the classroom.

They aren’t positive that it will include working with patients 65 years plus.

“It is an area or population that is going to need more healthcare going forward,” says Lauren Harvey, a Bellin nursing student. “Being in the position and learning everything that I am I think I’m not closed off to it, it’s something that I would consider.”

Wisconsin’s aging population will shoot up 72 percent in the next 25 years, which means more nurses will need to be available.

“There’s always been that misconception that working with older adults is working with them in a nursing home or a long-term care setting,” says Ruth Rodda, a Bellin nursing instructor. “But nurses in any area that they’re working are going to be working with older adults.”

According to the Wisconsin Center on Nursing if the amount of students trickling in to Wisconsin nursing schools continues as it is now, there won’t be enough nurses to fill positions by 2026.

Right now there are 47 schools of nursing in Wisconsin which graduate about 3,500 students.

There will be at least 5,300 nursing open positions in the next 5 years.

The average age of a nurse is 47, more than 3,700 retire after 64.

Between 2015 and 2040, the number of folks 65 and older will grow by 640,000 people.

Also an issue, there aren’t enough nursing instructors in the classrooms especially for clinicals.

“In clinicals we’re supervised and a lot of the skills that were performing like giving meds, starting IVs, anything new that we haven’t done before,” says Valerie Ehr, a Bellin nursing student. “So when you have a group of seven or eight students to one teacher it’s always it’s a little more difficult to get that one on one attention.”

Whether the shortage is in the classroom or the hospital, it may just be a sign of the times.

“When we have a strong economy like we have now, you have less people in general maybe seeking out college, like people seeking out programs like nursing,” says Rodda. “Our profession, there’s always that ebb and flow.”

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