Need for nurses grows as population ages

May 24, 2012

From fdlreporter.com: “Need for nurses grows as population ages” –There’s a reason why local college nursing programs are so popular.

Fond du Lac educators say nurses are in high demand, and the need for nurses will only grow as the population ages.

Nursing is the largest program enrollment-wise at Moraine Park Technical College. Dean of Health Sciences Kathy Van Eerden said 900 students have indicated that nursing is their choice of study.

It’s also a major field at Marian University, said Julie Luetschwager, dean of the school of nursing.

“(Enrollment) has been pretty stable, which is a good thing,” she said.

It’s not just high school graduates choosing nursing. Luetschwager said many nurses are also returning to school for advanced degrees.

Opportunities for highly skilled nurses are available in community and public health. And with doctor shortages anticipated in the future, nurse practitioners will be needed to fulfill some of their responsibilities.

Van Eerden said more and more students pursuing nursing already have a degree in another field, but are going back to school because they’re underemployed. Others who were laid off during the recession are hoping to land a diploma — and a career — in a stronger, more lucrative industry.

It helps that opportunities abound for nurses, and since credits transfer, it’s easy for them to advance their education if they so choose, she added.

“The beauty of nursing is that it has a clear career ladder for people,” she said.

The health care industry wasn’t immune to the recession; some medical providers froze hiring as a result of the economy, Luetschwager said. But sooner, rather than later, they’re going to have to hire again in response to the rapidly aging population.

Nurses too will retire, creating additional gaps that will need to be filled. Unless it’s addressed, there’s going to be a nursing shortage in the near future, Van Eerden said.

“We are clearly seeing continued high demand locally and nationally,” she said.

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