Kentucky Hospital Defies Nursing Shortage

By: Michel Mason Email
By: Michel Mason Email

More than 200,000 jobs are open at hospitals and nursing homes nationwide. The nursing shortage is compacted by an aging population of baby boomers and lack of financial support for education.

But things may not be as bad for hospitals in Eastern Kentucky.

Hospitals across the nation are offering incentives, and some are turning to cameras to help care for patients. All of this to combat a nursing shortage. It's a career that will never become obsolete.

"There's a lot more opportunities in nursing and there will always be sick patients and there will always be people who need nursing here," said Chief Nursing Officer of Pikeville Medical Center, Debra Campton.

With 478 nurses on staff at Pikeville Medical Center, there's only 10 open positions. That puts PMC's vacancy rate at 2%. That's compared to 7% across the state and 8% nationwide.

"We're very fortunate from that perspective. We're very lucky in that we recruit R.Ns from Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky," added Hampton.

PMC credits location, its state and national rankings and two nearby nursing schools as some of its advantages.

"There's a total of about 123 graduating so that really helps us. We just try to plan in advance what are needs are and try to capture those," said V.P. of Human Resources, Juanita Deskins.

Nursing colleges are having a tough time keeping up with demand. Almost 50,000 qualified applicants were turned away from nursing programs across the nation in 2008.

"We usually have a group of people waiting to get into the nursing program," said President and CEO of Hazard Community and Technical College, Dr. Allen Goben.

HCTC added evening classes and says integrating its L.P.N and R.N. programs should boost the number of graduates by next year.

The stimulus bill signed by President Obama last month includes $500,000,000 for shortages of healthcare workers, $100,000,000 of that could go specifically to nursing.

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