Wisconsin faces nurse instructor shortage due to COVID-19 pandemic

Local News

EAU CLAIRE/LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – The COVID-19 pandemic has made staffing shortages in the medical field painfully obvious. What you may not realize is where the challenges begin. It’s not in a clinic or hospital. First News at Nine’s Jessica Mendoza explains.

Right now, there are more people who want to become a nurse than the system can support. Dr Linda young is the dean of nursing at UW Eau Claire. She says for every five people who apply to the school’s nursing program 3 are turned away.

Dr. Linda Young, of UWEC dean of nursing said, “We started the fall with 110 faculty vacancies across the state. We will be losing approx. 250 nursing faculty in the next five years to be added to the 110 that we can’t fill right now. That has a huge impact on the number of nursing students we can provide to the state of Wisconsin.”

The staffing shortage trickles out into the community.

“At the same time the healthcare environment is needing them. They are asking me for more students,” said Young.

That is why “administrators of nursing educators in Wisconsin” has requested 10-million dollars from the state budget to help fill the faculty gap.

The funding would be used to support nurses looking to earn a master’s or doctoral degree. Young admits, It’s a short-term fix but a good first step.

“We as a state have done nothing about it. It’s going to affect the number of nurses to be hired in Wisconsin it’s going to affect the staffing in health care organizations including long term care, our clinics. It’s going to affect the quality of health care in Wisconsin,” said Young.

Chief Nursing Officer at HSHSh Sacred Heart Hospital Jen Drayton understands the challenges schools face.

Drayton said, “Nursing instructors aren’t paid at a premium and they should be because it’s a huge responsibility.”

One of the factors Dr. Young acknowledges.

“Nurse faculty make about half of what their equal counterpart in the health care organization would make, that is a big deterrent,” said Young.

For those looking to enter the health care field, Drayton encourages you to not get discouraged.

“Start online and take all your undergrad courses. Get all that stuff out,” said Drayton.

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