The national shortage of health care workers, especially nurses, is projected to get worse as 78 million aging baby boomers require more health care services, and the number of health care workers is not sufficient to care for those needs.
In the Kansas City region, a number of hospitals are under construction with new buildings to serve baby boomers. The new facilities will require more nurses and other health care workers which are in short supply. Hospitals and medical schools are getting creative to recruit more workers.
Dr. Lee Norman, Chief Medical Officer at the University of Kansas Hospital, said the shortage of nurses and physicians is not and will not affect patient care. He said hospitals experiencing a shortage will limit the number of patient beds to maintain the appropriate radio of patient-doctor-nurse to ensure quality patient care.
Norman does predict that in the future patients will likely have to wait longer to get an appointment. He said The University of Kansas is doing several things to recruit and attract new nurses.
- The University of Kansas Hospital has a program bringing high school students to visit the hospital and learn about nursing and other health care jobs.
- The University of Kansas Hospital also has programs where entry level nurses have a nurse mentor for one year.
- Norman said the hospital is offering competitive salaries for nurse recruits and is making sure the workplace is positive which helps retain workers.
At the UMKC School of Nursing, students who continue their education to earn advanced degrees are often eligible for scholarships. Rural schools desperate for quality nurses sometimes foot the bill for the nursing student's advanced education.
Joy Roberts, Associate Dean of the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Sciences, said that the school has three applicants for every one applicant they can accept. The UMKC School of Nursing has 100 new students this fall which is their maximum allowed by state regulations. They also have students in master's and other graduate programs.
"We also offer online programs," said Roberts.
Those online programs are an important part of increasing the pool of qualified nurses and nurses with specialized and advanced degrees.