This week UNC-TV aired a segment on the nursing shortage in North Carolina that featured an interview with clinical assistant professor Megan Williams, MSN, RN, FNP. Mrs. Williams, who is also President of the North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA), explained that North Carolina is experiencing a shortage due to a combination of registered nurses approaching retirement age and a lack of faculty to train the next generation.
“There are over 120,000 registered nurses in North Carolina; but in North Carolina alone, 1 in 5 registered nurses are over the age of 55” said Mrs. Williams. “Even if we try to increase our enrollment of students to supply the demand, there aren’t enough faculty. Just as our practicing nurses are retiring, or getting close to retirement age, so are our nursing faculty.”
Mrs. Williams also emphasized the importance of increasing the number of BSN-prepared nurses. “Research shows that care and patient outcomes improve when bedside nurses, those on the frontline of healthcare, have a four-year degree,” she said. “We need to develop partnerships and collaborate, not only with our healthcare facilities, but with our community colleges and with our four-year programs across the state so that we can graduate more BSN nurses.”
NCNA has made an effort to address some of these issues by organizing scholarship and continuing education opportunities for nurses in the state. The organization also advocates for nurses and improved patient care. “The key to the health and well-being of the people of North Carolina is better utilization of nurses at all levels,” said Mrs. Williams. “Nurses are really great at education, and teaching their patients; and not just their patient, but helping the family to cope and understand to better support their loved one.”
The full interview is available on UNC-TV.org. Skip to the 14:30 mark to see Mrs. William’s interview.