MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The nationwide nursing shortage continues to get worse.
On top of that – nursing schools across the country are struggling to meet the rising demand for care.
“Incoming nursing programs across the country released they’re seeing much lower rates of application than they have in the past. This may be something that lives with us for the next 5-10 years,” said Todd Kennedy, president of Ascension Providence.
Incoming class sizes at the nursing division at Spring Hill College have been fairly consistent over the past few years. But school officials say the coronavirus pandemic is changing the way they teach.
“It’s different here than ever before. The stressors are greater than they ever have been,” said Kathy Sheppard, Chair of the division of nursing at Spring Hill College.
Sheppard has been in the nursing education field for 36 years. She says while she’s seen many challenges over that time – this is the biggest challenge she’s seen so far.
“We don’t have the adequate nurses to pull into the hospitals, in particular, the urgent cares and doctors’ offices where so many patients are going to be evaluated. For me it has become an impetus to let’s get some more students in here, lets get them graduated so they can go out there into the trenches. Many of the nurses in this area, I have personally taught, and they’re tired, they’re weary and frustrated,” said Sheppard.
Nursing students in their final year say they are excited to get into the field and by patient’s bedsides, but doing that during coronavirus pandemic can be intimidating.
“We are very passionate about nursing, so this really hasn’t – it’s daunting at times, but it hasn’t strayed us away from the path,” said Daniel Cook, a senior nursing student at Spring Hill College.
Some do have concerns entering the workforce with fewer nurses working because they want to make sure their patients get the best level of care possible.
“It’s a one day at a time kind of thing, and I’m very hopeful that when I get out of here, that I’ll be able to help with that problem,” said Mary Boulton, a senior nursing student at Spring Hill College.
Spring Hill College is also getting a simulation center from an anonymous donor, so their students can learn in a controlled environment and experience situations they may not experience in training.