The demand for nursing staff across North Carolina is growing considerably. But so are the limitations preventing access to the right nursing education. More nursing centers require four-year degrees for RNs beyond the minimum associate’s degree. But higher education programs are turning away qualified candidates for lack of space. It’s a nursing shortage with no simple solutions. And just over the skyline, the healthcare industry can see a trend of as many as 32 million recently insured Americans who will get into the system on Jan. 1, 2014, as part of the national Affordable Care Act.
Now, universities and nursing centers are working together to fix the problem for themselves. Health care is changing in many ways. In the future, nursing centers will be the last resort for the most seriously ill people. Nurses will cure a variety of diseases, help manage such serious problems as diabetes and even recommend medicines for many conditions. Greensboro’s Cone Health utilizes about 3,000 nursing staff across five nursing centers. And based on revenues or new jobs, it can hire hundreds of nursing staff every year. Some 65% of the nursing staff now at Cone has four-year higher education degrees, bachelors of science in nursing. Cone wishes to boost that to at least 80% by 2020, under suggestions from the national Institute of Medicine.
Cone has mentioned a decrease of death rates after surgery for sufferers handled by nursing staff with bachelor’s degrees and even individual fulfillment ratings are higher, said the center’s top health professional, Theresa Brodrick, RN, Ph.D., executive vice president and primary nursing official for Cone Health. But getting that nursing education is not simple. Students have two routes to become certified nurses: They can start out in a four-year program without a nursing certificate or they can get into an associate’s level system at a community college. Both are extremely competitive. In some cases only 50% of candidates are accepted. Another program that allows a nurse to earn a bachelor’s degree may provide more nursing staff with bachelor’s degrees.