Nurses Wanted: Medical Facilities Look Outside NV - 8 News NOW

Nurses Wanted: Medical Facilities Look Outside NV

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LAS VEGAS -- Local economists and nursing schools say hospitals and outpatient facilities are now forced to search outside Nevada to find enough qualified nurses.

The Las Vegas valley has some of the lowest numbers of health care workers per capita in the country and the demand for nurses is skyrocketing.

The age of the average nurse is steadily increasing, leaving a need for new nurses to come in as seasoned nurses retire.

Nursing instructors said medical facilities are forced to look elsewhere just to get qualified workers.

"They're having to go outside Nevada looking for people to hire," said Debbie Ain, of the College of Southern Nevada nursing program.

The college has seen an increase in people wanting to study nursing since the economic downturn, but say hospitals and other medical facilities can't fill the jobs fast enough upon graduation -- even beyond the traditional hospital setting.

"They're finding more jobs in community centers, in outpatient settings, more than in the acute care hospitals right now," said Pat Riede, of the CSN nursing program.

Student Kimberly McColery has only been in the CSN nursing program for three weeks and is already gaining hands-on experience.

"There's so many things you can do," she said. "It's not just one thing. It's several different things."

McColery said she is confident this is the field that will provide for her and her family for years.

"I can do this for as long as I want," she said. "I don't have to retire at 65. I can retire at 70. I can go further than that."

Las Vegas economists expect this trend to continue as the general population continues to age, requiring even more care from dedicated nurses.

The college estimates there are nearly 700 available nursing positions per year, making a median wage of $34.99 an hour.

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