Nursing Education in Oregon Is a Numbers Game, and Right Now the State Is Losing

Article excerpt

Byline: Greg Bolt The Register-Guard

Nursing education in Oregon is a numbers game, and right now the state is losing.

In 2005, nursing programs in Oregon had to turn down three qualified applicants for every one they accepted, largely because they didn't have enough room. In 2007, that number overall had grown to five rejections for every acceptance, and for some schools the number is much higher.

And that's in spite of the fact that from 2001 to 2007 the state increased the number of nursing graduates by 80 percent. Community colleges alone increased the number of new nurses they graduate by 82 percent.

But it won't be enough, according to state employment trend data and the Oregon Center for Nursing.

To replace nurses who will retire and to handle job growth, the state is expected to need 15,700 additional nurses by 2025. But that's about 5,000 more than it's expected to have.

"It is an issue that's going to impact us for some period of time," said Kris Campbell, director of the OCN, which was formed to help lead the state's response to the looming shortage.

"We're not letting up at all, because the need is huge. Even if we doubled enrollment in our nursing programs, and we're close to that, it's still not all the nurses that we need."

While hospital care is likely to be affected in many places, particularly rural areas, the shortage will be especially acute at nursing homes, retirement centers and public health agencies.

Hospitals such as PeaceHealth's Sacred Heart and RiverBend will be less affected because the area's quality of life and the higher wages paid by large hospitals make them prime draws for nurses. …