Midstate impacted by nationwide nurse shortage

Navicent Health is facing the nursing shortage that's happening at many hospitals nationwide/Jennifer Munoz (WGXA)

MACON, Ga. -- The Georgia Nurses Association says that by 2030, the state could be facing a shortfall of 50,000 registered nurses.

Nurse Sheryl Adams said that 15 years ago, she finally got the call to start nursing at the Medical Center Navicent Health.

"It's unreal. It's unbelievable what you can do and what you get out of it and how much it impacts these people's lives," she said.

Adams said that she wouldn't trade her job for anything. "Just to know when you go to sleep at night, that you have done something good for somebody, that you helped somebody who may have not had the opportunity if you weren't there," she said.

Navicent Health is like other hospital nationwide, in that it doesn't have enough nurses like Adams.

Tracey Blalock, chief nurse executive for the hospital, said they have more than 150 open nursing positions.

"Some of the reasons we are seeing a shortage of nurses is many of them are baby boomers. A lot of them are 50 years old, the average age of an RN is in the mid 40's," said Blalock.

These nurses are expected to retire soon, and nursing schools are facing a shortage of teachers. Younger nurses also change jobs more quickly.

"Someone like me who spent their entire career in a hospital based role we are just not seeing the millennials do that," said Blalock.

Blalock said that Navicent Health has started to recruit nurses at a younger age. "We have developed nurse extern programs where we allow students once they've completed their first semester of foundations to come here and work with us to shadow a nurse and just to see what its like," she said.

She added that without more nurses, there could be a serious impact on healthcare. "It's a problem we all need to keep in the forefront, because people like me and my peers are going to be needing these services," she said.

Blalock added that there's also a nationwide physician shortage, so many nurses are returning to school to become nurse practitioners to help fill the gap.

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