Colorado faces nursing shortage as students enroll in new program
The Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence reports Colorado needs 33,000 new nurses a year to fill the demand amid a nursing shortage and retiring population. In one recent year, Colorado graduated only 24,000 nurses.
If the nursing shortage gets worse, we could see hospitals struggling to staff enough nurses to take care of patients. It's a trend the next generation of nurses has in mind.
"It definitely did influence my decision to pursue it," said nursing student Abdallah Abujamilah. He's well aware of the shortage in his chosen profession.
"It triggered my curiosity as to why nurses are quitting their jobs and switching careers," said Abujamilah. He's in the first class of students at Arizona College of Nursing's new Aurora campus.
Dean of Nursing, Dr. Shawn Elliott, says the shortage is due in part to the aging baby boomer population.
"That requires more nursing because as we live longer we have more health issues," said Elliott.
That also means more nurses will soon leave the workforce. The Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence says 21,000 of the state's 61,000 licensed nurses are over the age of 55.
"So we have a third of our nursing population that's going to be retiring in the next 10 years," said Elliott.
And that shortage was exacerbated by the pandemic.
"We had more burden with more patients to take care of, so we saw nurses at the bedside burn out and leave the profession," said Elliott.
"As a job, it is extremely stressful. You never know what you are going to be dealing with in an emergency room, in an ICU," said Abujamilah. He thinks prospective nurses need to know the reality of the profession.
"Setting the expectation correctly and accurately for younger generations who are maybe aspiring the be in the healthcare field," said Abujamilah.
A profession that he chose to enter, despite the toll.
"The idea of being able to be there for somebody is just very very influential in my decision for this career," said Abujamilah.
Elliot says her nursing college has changed its curriculum to include stress reduction and self-care.
She also says, despite the shortage, she still sees a high level of interest in the profession.
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