Nursing Shortage

A national effort to increase the number of nurses is coming to Houston. The Johnson and Johnson Campaign for Nursing's Future is raising money here to help those interested in going into the nursing field. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports.

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The Campaign for Nursing's Future is just shy of five years old. One part involves going to communities that are experiencing nursing shortages and raising funds for nursing education. The campaign's Director Andrea Higham says in a healthy healthcare economy normal vacancy rate is 5,000 to 10,000 depending on the size of the region being studied.

"What we are looking at as far as the projected shortage in Texas is by the year 2010, you'll have vacancies of 27,000 nursing positions. By 2015 it's projected to go up to 45,000, by 2020, 71,000 open nursing positions in the state of Texas."

Part of the goal of the campaign is to better educate the public about what a nursing career involves. Interest is growing. Higham says nursing school enrollment has seen double digit increases.

"The major obstacle we are facing right now is we can't get them in. We can't get them into schools. Schools are topped out at capacity. Depending upon whether you look at research from one organization or another, estimates show that anywhere from 42,000 to 150,000 qualified applicants were turned away from nursing schools over the course of the last year."

Higham says they hope to raise $300,000 to $400,000 that will stay in the Houston region. Some will help nursing students pay for their education. Higham says some of that money may be used to help nursing schools expand.

"There's a horrible, horrible shortage of nurse faculty right now. And one of the reasons why nursing students are being turned away from so many nursing schools right now is because there is no faculty to teach them."

More information about the campaign can be found at KUHF-dot-org. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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