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California Needs More Nurses

After looking at many news sites for the past few months, a reoccurring theme is the shortage of nurses that are projected for the future. California continues to have a population growth spurt, but budget cuts in higher education have greatly impacted the number of nurses that are projected for the future. Many nurses are choosing to get their LVN certifications rather than enter an RN program or BSN degree due to both financial cost on behalf of the students and budget cutbacks in the educational systems.

According to Randy M. Caine on sfgate.com, “Since the start of the state’s Nurse Education Initiative in 2005, California has thankfully seen a 78.7 percent increase in new student enrollments as a result of opening 35 additional nursing programs. But California is still scrambling to get out of the nursing shortage hole and, in the 2008-09 academic year, saw the increase of new enrollments slow.

“California falls short of the national average of 825 registered nurses employed per 100,000 population. With just 653 registered nurses employed per 100,000, the state’s nursing shortage will climb to 80,000 by 2015.”

One major factor contributing to the nursing shortage is the vacancies in the faculty departments that are not being filled. Not only are there shortages in professors, but budget cuts are causing cutbacks in education and more faculty members are not being hired. Caine comments that, “California was forced to turn nearly 23,000 qualified applicants away from nursing programs during the 2008-2009 academic year.

“As a nursing professor at California State University at Los Angeles until 2008, I saw highly qualified students being turned away simply because we didn’t have the staff to teach them. I saw students who had to worry about their program being offered the following year, and I saw faculty members who didn’t know if they would get a paycheck.”
Most interesting in Caine’s article was the statement, “We should not view today as a lull in the need for nurses, but as the calm before the storm…Many have closed their eyes to the ripple effect of today’s nursing shortage, but it is impossible to discuss the need for more nurses without looking to how this will change the future of health care.”

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