A national study says Missouri is short more than 4,000 nurses and that the shortage will reach more than 17,000 by 2020. The study says part of the reason is that women have more choices than teaching and nursing these days, part of it is an outmoded image that nursing is extremely stressful, mentally and physically. It still is stressful, but much less than it used to be. Part of it is that the profession is not recruiting potential nurses in junior high and high schools enough. Mary Becker with the Missouri Hospital Associaton says a slow turnaround might be starting. But Belinda Heimericks with the Missouri Nurses Assocaition says employers have a special responsibility to make salaries competitive with other industries. And Ruth Threlkeld with the state LPN association says the state needs to fund nursing education programs. The study from Vanderbilt and from Dartmouth says more than half of the new registered nurses entering the field are older than 50 or foreign-born. Becker, Heimricks, and Threlkeld agree that is not a long-term fix to the shortage.
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