Nursing Shortage

By: Melissa Reynolds
By: Melissa Reynolds

"The nursing shortage is continuing to get worse," Dr. Merle Mast says.

Nurses like Donna Lucas see that everyday.

"Definitely-probably you see it more in the hospital than the office, you need so many nurses to cover each shift," Donna Lucas says.

The shifts are longer at a hospital and they cover all hours of the day, plus you may be required to work holidays.

"You're responsible for five to six people's lives while you're there whereas in an office you can go take a break, yeah, the hospital's more demanding," Lucas says.

But, hospitals nurses get paid better and RMH's Vice President of Patient Services says that's important.

"It could be very fraigle and we could be affected just like anybody else if we didn't create an environment in which they like to work," Alice Stecker says.

Stecker says RMH has transported a few patients this year because there wasn't adequate staffing, but overall, experts say the Valley's shortage is only moderately severe.

Part of the problem is schools like JMU don't have enough room for more nursing students.

"We've seen increased enrollment like I said into the nursing programs during this past year, but it's still not nearly enough of nurses entering the profession to replace those that are retiring and leaving," Dr. Merle Mast says.

Plus, the population is aging rapidly and people are living longer. For now, nurses like Lucas are working overtime.

"It is demanding, but it's also rewarding when you know you're really helping somebody," Lucas says.

And Mast hopes the situation will improve.


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