Visiting Angels: What happened to my nurse?

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Recently, while researching for a location to hold staff training in Routt and Moffat counties, I came across some amazing information: The United States is in a nursing profession shortage.

Pick your source; they all indicate that we are in a nursing shortage. According to a study from Georgetown University, “The health care sector will create 5.6 million new jobs by 2020.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics states, “Registered nurses are a barn-burner profession and should result in 526,800 new positions created at a rate of 19.4 percent.” The government occupational handbook states that the nursing job outlook from 2012 to 2022 will grow 19 percent faster than average. They also state, “Growth will occur for a number of reasons, including an increased emphasis on preventative care; growing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity; and demand for health care services from the baby boomer population, as they live longer and more active lives.”

If this piques your interest, then you will be relieved to know that Colorado is making great strides in addressing medical needs and the economics of medicine. Last year, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced in The State of Health: Colorado’s Commitment to Become the Healthiest State speech that “we will build on Colorado’s unique strengths — including our strong health economy and infrastructure and our dedication to collaboration and innovation — to become the healthiest state.” If you have been down to Denver in the past year, perhaps you may have seen some hospital redevelopment. According to a Colorado Public News examination, some 50 hospital construction projects are in development throughout the state with a $3.4 billion price tag.

Wow, this is all great news, eh? Not so fast! The American Association of Colleges of Nursing conducted a report in 2012 that states, “U.S. nursing schools turned away 79,659 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2012 due to an insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors and budget constraints.” Further, the Bureau of Labor Statistics informs us that the percentage of nursing educators who are 50 and older exceeds 60 percent.

This summer, in the pursuit of both finding employees and a location to provide a training seminar, my area manager suggested that I call the Craig campus of Colorado Northwestern Community College.

Without knowing whom to call, I blindly called the director of nursing, Kelly Martin-Puleo. I explained to her that I was looking for a location to hold my new hire training. Kelly was gracious enough to offer not only a classroom but also their teaching lab.

What I found there knocked my socks off. The newly constructed Craig campus of Colorado Northwestern Community College was amazing! The modern facility includes classrooms with smart boards and overhead projectors and exudes education. This campus sets the stage for success; in fact, it will graduate about 50 new nursing students this year.

We are fortunate to have our local community colleges address our nationwide need so close to home. These colleges are creating new economies for the state and our local communities.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Moffat and Routt counties. Contact him at www.visitingangels.com/comtns or 970-328-5526.

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