JSU Newswire
Jacksonville, Alabama

JSU Nursing Dean Testifies
about Shortage of Nurses

JACKSONVILLE -- April 27, 2001 -- A Jacksonville State University dean testified Thursday in Washington D.C., warning officials that a national shortage of nurses is creating problems for both patients and health-care workers.

Martha Lavender is President of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses. Her testimony was in behalf of that organization.

She said the association has received reports of mandatory overtime, closure of beds because of insufficient staffing, and increased use of unlicensed personnel--all related to the nursing shortage.

"The demographics of the nursing shortage indicate that these situations will spread across the nation and increase in intensity unless something is done to reverse the trend," Mrs. Lavender said.

A nursing consensus document details how supporting nurse education and training could help with the shortage. In her testimony, Mrs. Lavender urged the council to consider using that document to reauthorize Title VIII programs.

She highlighted four points for the council to consider:

  • Establishment of grant support for an internship/residency program
  • Expanded attention to racial/ethnic diversity issues in the nursing profession.
  • Establishment of Community-Nurse Outreach Grants.
  • Expansion of the data collection capacity to capture nursing supply and demand.

Aside from more nurses quitting their jobs, fewer people are enrolling in nursing school.

In 1999, Alabama saw a 7.8 percent decrease in the number of people taking the licensing exam to become registered nurses than in 1998. A 23 percent decrease was reported for licensed practical nurses.

In Alabama, there are 41,513 registered nurses, according to the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses. Of those, 82 percent are employed in nursing and 18 percent aren't.

For the past five years, JSU has seen a decline in its nursing school enrollment, Mrs. Lavender said in a February Anniston Star article on the nursing shortage.

Nationwide, nursing school enrollment has dropped 25 percent. It's predicted that by 2010, the demand for nurses will be greater than the supply, according to the federal Division of Nurses. By 2020, the supply of registered nurses will be 20 percent below requirements, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In light of not only a nursing shortage, but also other signs indicating that fewer students are entering health care professions, Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman established the Health Care Workers Task Force. The committee is scheduled to report its recommendations on how to increase the number of health care workers in Alabama to the governor by Dec. 31.

Copied from The Anniston Star - Friday, April 27, 2001.


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