Nursing shortage 'going to get worse' - 8 News NOW

Nursing shortage 'going to get worse'

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(Credit: UNLV) (Credit: UNLV)
LAS VEGAS — The job growth for nurses is anything but constant. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 19 percent grown within nursing jobs between 2012 and 2022 — more than most occupations. 

While nurses were in high demand during the recession, now some of them are faced with a challenge. Those with experience have no problems finding a job, however for recent grads the job hunt is taking much longer.

"I'm really hopeful," says Sydney Duke, a recent graduate from UNLV's School of Nursing. "I'm just ready to get out there."

She's ready to get her first job. "In nursing you think there's always going to be a job open," Duke said. But that might not always be the case.

Katie Ryan, Director of Emergency Services at University Medical Center, says there are a lot of new grads out there. In a recent posting for an experience nurse, there were six applicants. One for a training position had 125.

"There's a lot of excellent candidates out there that just need the training, but it's very expensive to do," said Ryan.

Despite UMC being a teaching hospital where students, like Duke, intern while attending school, the Chief of Human Resources says newer nurses have an uphill battle.

"If we can't find who we're looking for, we actually do a lot of internal development where we will train nurses into those specialties that we can't find people for," said UMC's John Espinoza.

For example, Espinoza says at UMC an experience nurse can earn up to $40 an hour. Starting salaries begin around $24 an hour. Yet the problem remains in southern Nevada: new nurses can't land jobs.

"I have known new grad nurses that have actually moved out-of-state after graduating nursing school because they couldn't get a job here," said Duke.

Despite that, the Dean at the School of Nursing at UNLV says 80 percent of grads there land jobs somewhere in Nevada.

"Our students don't generally have a problem getting jobs, but they can't get any job they want," says Carolyn Yucha. She said 144 people graduate with nursing degrees from UNLV each year.

"I can't say there's a nursing shortage right now," she says. "I think we have a sufficient number of nurses. What we don't have is a sufficient number of experienced nurses."

With the Affordable Care Act, an aging nursing population, an obesity epidemic, and more chronic disease, Yucha believes there will be a nursing shortage within the next decade.

"There's every indication it's going to get worse," she said.

By the way, Duke just landed a job with a behavioral health facility. 

UNLV's nursing program recently earned another 10-year accreditation. Dean Yucha added twice as many candidates apply than they can accept — and for the nurse practitioner program triple the amount apply.

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