Critical Shortage of Registered Nurses in The State

The University of Oklahoma College of Nursing is addressing the critical shortage of registered nurses in the state and nation through its online advanced degree nursing programs.

The dean announced the OU College of Nursing has been ranked as one the best online advanced degree nursing programs for 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.

Benefield said the ranking is a tremendous honor, but is not surprising.Benefield said 46 percent of the nurses at Oklahoma City’s VA Hospital are eligible for retirement. At the same time, 79,000 qualified applicants were not admitted to nursing schools last year because there was no room for them.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports the shortage of registered nurses is expected to intensify as baby boomers age and nursing schools struggle to expand capacity to meet the rising demand.

Great flexibility
The OU College of Nursing offers several online advanced degree programs, including the masters of nursing education, doctor of nursing practice and Ph.D in nursing, said Gary Loving, associate dean.

“The programs offer great flexibility,” Loving said. Students determine “when, where and how they meet the objectives of their programs.”

They can work on their degrees full-time or part-time and are eligible to compete for merit-based scholarships, he said.

A success story
Kathryn Wickham said the program allowed her to stay at home with her two young children and to work at her own pace to earn a masters of nursing education.

Future of nursing
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists registered nursing among the top occupations for job growth through 2022, with the numbers expected to grow from 2.71 million in 2012 to 3.24 million in 2022, an increase of 19.4 percent.

The nursing shortage has negative consequences. The American Nurses Association reports nurses often need to work long hours under stressful conditions, which can result in fatigue, injury and job dissatisfaction. Nurses in these environments are more prone to make mistakes and medical errors, so patient quality can suffer, the association said.

Benefield noted three keys to resolving the nursing shortage — graduate more nurses with advanced degrees, employ nurses in jobs that use their level of expertise, and change the national model of health care.

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