It’s one of the most in-demand professions in the country and Alaska is no exception. The Alaska Department of Labor estimates the state will need an additional 1,141 registered nurses by 2026.

Marianne Murray, director of the University of Alaska Anchorage School of Nursing,  said the demand for nurses is increasing as the state’s population ages.

“One of the reasons why is because Alaska has what we call a ‘silver tsunami’ which is, our population is aging,” she said. “And of course, with an aging population, we have an increase in health care needs.”

Murray said UAA is actively working to help fill the gap for health care workers, especially nurses. The nursing school offers both a four-year bachelor's and two-year associate's degree in the profession. Although, realistically, Murray said the associate's degree takes three years to complete.

But the biggest problem according to Murray is space. There are far more people interested in the UAA nursing program than there is room for.

“We do admit 120 students to our baccalaureate program every year and we have about 280 competitive applicants for those slots,” she said.

Murray said the university is hoping to expand the program to 180 openings by 2025. She said there are also currently 15 distance sites throughout the state. She encourages students to apply even though the program is competitive. 


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