New ‘must read’ series highlights NC’s growing crisis in nursing

In case you missed it, the good people at Higher Ed Works have recently produced a truly impressive and comprehensive series of multimedia reports that explore a poorly understood and under-reported (but nonetheless enormous) problem that afflicts North Carolina’s heath care system: a rising shortage of nurses.

According to the series, which is entitled “Help Wanted: Nurses,” the state was already experiencing a nursing shortage prior to the pandemic and that situation is likely going to get significantly worse in the years ahead unless action is taken by policymakers and education leaders.

A (and perhaps the) central problem: a failure to invest adequate resources in recruiting and holding on to nursing faculty. This is from installment #4 in the series, “The nursing faculty bottleneck”:

There’s no shortage of people who want to be nurses. And there’s no shortage of people who want to hire them.

The shortage is a shortage of instructors – largely because they can make more money being a nurse than teaching students how to nurse.

“When you can make more to do the job than you can to teach people how to do the job, and that gap grows, then you’re in trouble,” Dr. Scott Ralls, President of Wake Technical Community College and former president of the NC Community College System, says in the accompanying video.

The series includes a number of charts, graphs and videos in which experts hold forth on the issue, but the bottom line message seems to be this: We know what to do as the state’s nursing schools do a fine job, but as in so many other areas of education, the state is simply not investing enough — in facilities, in programming, in teachers — to get the job done. One can only hope that state lawmakers — who currently enjoy the rare occurrence of having plentiful resources at their disposal — are listening.

The following video is from installment #1 to the series:

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New ‘must read’ series highlights NC’s growing crisis in nursing