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Pressure mounting on nursing colleges in Kentucky as nursing shortage could be 'untenable'

nursing shortage
Posted at 3:38 PM, Dec 10, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — He’s been warning us of this problem for a while, and on Thursday Governor Andy Beshear signed an executive order to address the state’s nursing shortage.

“I am grateful the governor and others are seeing that our health systems will shut down in a nanosecond if we don’t have nurses in place,” said Janie Heath, the Dean of the University of Kentucky Nursing College.

Many blame the nursing shortage at the feet of the pandemic. But that’s a lazy and misguided narrative. While some nurses have retired early due to working conditions caused by COVID-19, and others have left the industry for similar reasons, the nursing shortage has been an issue for many years predating the pandemic. And it’s only expected to get worse.

“By 2030, there’s going to be a 50 percent workforce reduction. That’s 2,000,000 RNs,” Heath said.

Delanor Manson leads the Kentucky Nurses Association, and she said that finding faculty members has always been a challenge, and it has resulted in filling classroom seats.

“If we don’t do something now, post-pandemic is going to be untenable,” Manson said.

Manson estimates there to be 1,700 empty nursing student seats across the state.

The Governor’s Executive Order will allow nursing colleges to tap into various resources to hire faculty members and expand programs all designed to increase enrollment.

“The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that 85,000 qualified applicants were not able to be admitted into a college of nursing because of a faculty shortage,” Heath said

It’s why Manson said the situation would be untenable if it goes unmitigated.

“What it looks like to you and me is I might not get the care that I need because there aren’t enough nurses to provide that care,” Manson said.