UAA's School of Nursing hopes to help reverse nursing shortage in AK
As the nation continues to deal with a shortage of nurses, the University of Alaska Anchorage's School of Nursing is trying to reverse the trend here through some new initiatives and programs.
Students this semester will soon join the workforce and help fill the gaps within the healthcare industry. Medical experts say the current nursing shortage is about to get worse as aging baby boomers retire and the increase of healthcare regulations continues to impact the medical community.
School of Nursing Director Dr. Marianne Murray says Alaska is not immune from this problem.
"A lot of our shortage comes from out outreach areas where we have smaller communities that are having to bring nurses up from the "Lower 48 to fill those slots," said Murray.
Murray says the school is expanding its nursing program to cover the University's 14 satellite campuses.
"So, what we're trying to do is increase the amount of students that we take into the programs in those distant sites."
Students like Ria Stevens, a former computer programmer, is now working towards her nursing degree.
"There's something that I was longing for, you know, to be able to help for those in need of help," said Stevens.
Former mechanical engineering student Paul Johnson is part of a growing trend of men who are studying to become a nurse.
"You're not going with gender roles of maybe a previous time, and now men don't have to feel any kind of shame or anything of being a nurse," said Johnson.
Dr. Murray says UAA no longer has a waitlist. Instead, they have an applicant pool and a competitive admissions process. Once students graduate the goal is to keep them here in the state.
"They actually also become a very important person in the community because they act to engage high schoolers to think about nursing as a career," said Murray.
She went on to say the average salary for a nurse is about $78,000. The university has about 400 students in the program.