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Posted: Oct 28, 2020 4:30 PMUpdated: Oct 29, 2020 5:20 AM

Several Factors Contributing to Oklahoma Nurses Shortage

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Tom Davis
When Oklahoma first identified its nursing shortage, George W. Bush was still president. The United States entered a nationwide nursing shortage in 2001, and Oklahoma has been in one since. 
Jane Nelson, the CEO of the Oklahoma Nurses Association tells State Impact Oklahoma several barriers factor into the state’s inability to overcome the shortage. One is education.
Many graduates take jobs out of state. Retainment poses a challenge, too, especially when it comes to bedside nursing. And because it is such a physically demanding job, nurses tend to retire or leave the field in their early 50s.
A 2018 report by The Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development found the state has about seven hundred nurses per one hundred thousand people. Nationally, that number is eleven hundred and fifty. That was before we entered the worst pandemic in a century.
Demand is an obvious issue, but COVID-19 has hampered Oklahoma’s already stunted nursing supply, as well.
Another strain on supply: Other states. Oklahoma’s not the only one facing a staffing crisis amid the pandemic. 
Nelson from the Oklahoma Nurses Association says there are few other avenues hospitals have taken. The shutdown on elective surgeries led to many contract nurses being furloughed. Some hospitals are pulling those people in. Some are partnering with nursing schools for externships or other arrangements. That allows the students to come in as a support staff for registered nurses. 
Some are holding job fairs, to show the workforce in the state what kinds of benefits their organizations can offer.

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