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Nursing Programs Send Students Into The Workforce To Help Combat Workforce Shortage

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- As a workforce shortage plagues hospitals across the country, many local nursing programs are sending students to help beef up the workforce.

More than 100 nursing students from the University of Maryland School of Nursing are graduating a few weeks early. These students are in a position to help local hospitals and medical offices.

Many of them are in clinical rotations right now and have just an exam standing between them and the professional world.

Jessica Smith, a soon-to-be graduate from the University of Maryland School of Nursing, said "the patients need it, the nurses need it, we are needed."

Smith plans to start on the oncology floor at the University of Maryland Medical Center after she graduates on Dec. 16. She says that every unit needs help.

"It's not just in the emergency departments, or in the ICUs; for me working in oncology it's with people who maybe haven't had many people at their bedside," Smith said.

In September, health officials called this labor shortage one of the worst nursing shortages in Maryland's history. As a new Covid variant emerges even more help is needed.

Dr. Bimbola Akintade, Associate Dean for the Master's Program at UMS, hopes all students will consider jumping into their field upon graduation.

"I know there is a huge shortage so this is our way to support the workforce at a time like this," Akintage said. "For our baccalaureate program we have 160 to 161 students who are early exiting, and for our entry class into clinical nurse leader program we have 11 students exiting so that's about 180 students who can enter the workforce."

According to students, those who started their schooling in Jan. 2020 received ample virtual instruction, clinical time, and a unique perspective of the nursing world during a pandemic.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects Maryland will need 10,000 nurses over the next 10 years and graduating students could help fill those positions immediately.

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