Local numbers high despite national nursing shortage

By: Laura Rogers Email
By: Laura Rogers Email

You will never hear Mary Ford complain about her job.

"I love my work. I've wanted to be a nurse since I was a little girl. My grandmother was sick and we had to take care of her til we could no longer do that," Ford said.

Nursing has changed a lot over the years.

"We as baby boomers are a larger population and it's nothing to have 90-year-old patients in the hospital on every floor," said Chief Nursing Officer Betsy Kullman.

Another change is how many nurses are needed to keep the nurse to patient ratio at its lowest. Retention and recruitment are key to fighting the national nursing shortage. The Medical Center uses a resource that's right next door.

"We have a very good relationship with WKU. We recruit their nurses heavily," said Vickie Mullins, clinical manager. "We're lucky right now with the nursing shortage. We've caught up so to speak, thanks to Western.

Ford is a Western graduate. She's been a nurse for five years and works closely with those new to the profession to help make the transition smooth.

"I've been on this floor enough they're comfortable with me showing new graduates the ropes. It's taking new graduates and orienting them from the schoolbooks to the real world," Ford said.

The Commonwealth Health Corporation., which includes The Medical Center, employs more than 700 nurses. With that large of a number, there is a remarkably low turnover rate.

"It's helping people; it's being there when the family can't be. It's being an advocate for the patient and seeing that their best needs are being looked out for," Ford said.

For nurses like Ford it's not only about serving the patient, it's about serving as a support system for other nurses.

To view facts sheets on the national nursing shortage and on the national nursing faculty shortage visit www.aacn.nche.edu.


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