Louisiana Nursing Shortage - KLFY News 10

October 18, 2004

Louisiana Nursing Shortage

It's become such a problem that the state is stepping in to see what can be done. We're referring to the national nursing shortage that is affecting hospitals and patients across the country, as well as here in Acadiana.

Monday, members of the Louisiana Health Works Commission outlined state-funded programs aimed at recruiting registered nurses to local hospitals.

One program already in place is adding additional nursing classes at select schools across the state to make it more convenient to students, but many experts say more needs to be done.

There are several different reasons why there is a shortage, but the one that stands out the most is the fact that many nursing graduates are leaving Louisiana in favor of higher paying jobs in other states.

Locally, the starting salary for a nurse is about $32,000. But, if you drive about four hours west to Texas, the starting salary is about $10,000 - $15,000 more. That alone is convincing thousands of new and veteran nurses to leave.

Louisiana currently has 11,000 health care vacancies in five different areas.The most predominant of those is in nursing, with a shortage of about 4,000 registered nurses and about 3300 license practical nurses, or LPN's.

Acadiana has several junior colleges and universities where students can major in nursing. Monday, we stopped by UL-Lafayette to talk with nursing students who are getting ready to graduate.

According to officials with UL, the nursing department has about 160 graduates every year.

Students we spoke with all say they know many people who are in fact leaving Louisiana in favor of Texas, Mississippi and even California.

Coming up on later editions of Eyewitness News, we'll talk with local doctors and find out how these shortages could affect you.



For TV 10 Eyewitness News, I'm Nicole Murray

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