The Cape Girardeau Partnership for Higher Education is evaluating the need for more healthcare related education programs.
Yesterday, I attended the newly formed organization's meeting where Mary Becker, senior vice-president of the Missouri Hospital Association gave an interesting presentation on current and anticipated needs for registered nurses and licensed practical nurses. Registered nurses make up 60 percent of a hospital's workforce, Becker said.
In 2009 there was a vacancy rate of 3.9 percent for registered nurses at Southeast Missouri hospitals and a vacancy rate 4.5 percent for licensed practical nurses.
"These low vacancy rates are short-lived," Becker said.
There are a combination of factors contributing to nursing shortages that are likely to get worse.
At the same time the Baby Boomer population is aging, many current nurses are expected to be retiring. The average age of a nurse in the United States is 48, Becker said.
In Southeast Missouri, by the year 2014, 16.8 percent of residents will be over age 65, Becker said.
The number of those suffering from multiple chronic diseases like diabetes, arthritis and obesity also is increasing.
"People are living longer and with more chronic diseases," she said.
Another factor to consider is that by the year 2014, 495,000 currently uninsured Missourians will gain access to health coverage when federal healthcare reform is fully implemented, Becker said.
Nursing education programs are running short on instructors, facilities, and partner medical practices where students can get their required hands-on clinical experience.
In 2009, 39,423 students were turned away from nursing education programs in the U.S., she said.
The Cape Giardeau Partnership for Higher Education started its first semester of classes this week at the Cape Career and Technology Center. (Read more at this link: http://www.semissourian.com/story/165874...)
It's advisory board will continue to study the need for healthcare education in this area and make a recommendation to its cooperating colleges later this year. The Partnership includes Southeast Missouri State University, Mineral Area College and Three Rivers Community College.
Currently, there are 183 students enrolled in the Partnership.