DCH administrator discusses need for nurses in Tuscaloosa area

DCH administrator discusses need for nurses in Tuscaloosa area
Nurses at work inside a hospital. (Source: WBRC Video)

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - This is National Nurses Week, a time dedicated to honoring a group of professionals that may labor experts say is in high demand.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for nurses will grow about 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, a rate which is significantly higher than average. The Alabama Department of Labor consistently places nurses number two, just behind truck drivers, in its monthly survey of online job postings.

DCH Assistant Vice President of Patient Care Services Tracie Shafer says she sees the same need for nurses locally. Shafer attributes the need for nurses largely to the aging baby boomer population, which is living longer and remaining active, creating a need for more health care. 

Shafer says the need for nurses is great in many areas, but she sees a particular need for acute care nurses.

"There's a huge population that needs their health care managed when they're in the hospital," Shafer said.

"Those nurses spend a lot of time with those patients care-planning, educating those patients about their disease process and how to care for themselves when they're at home and in the community."

Shafer also notes that nursing schools are working to recruit more students to meet the demand.

To those considering the profession, Shafer says nursing is demanding, yet rewarding work.

"It is a 24/7 commitment, regardless of where you're at as a nurse. And you just have to know that."

"It's a great profession because you have flexibility...You have many different fields that you could go into, so if you're in an area for a certain amount of time, and say you get bored with that, then you have another opportunity to go into another specialty. So it's a career path that is a journey."

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