Budget Negotiations Impacting Nursing Shortage

By: Tyler Helms
By: Tyler Helms

There are over 30,000 registered nurses in the state of Mississippi, but as the nation gears up to show their appreciation, the fight continues for more funding in a field that is out growing its workforce.

"We have to have more nurses in this state in order to provide the healthcare the people in this state deserve," said Betty Dickson, Director of the Mississippi Nurses Association.

Dickson took time out from lobbying legislators in Jackson on Friday to visit with USM's School of Nursing at the Meridian Campus. She is all too familiar with the Nursing shortages and says the problem lies in the lack of teachers forcing schools to turn away applicants.

"We are expecting about 2,000 openings for positions next year, at the same time we had to turn away 1,600 qualified applicants from schools, in a time when we have a big shortage," says Dickson.

The problem of course, is there is not enough money to hire more instructors at the state's 21 accredited nursing schools. In addition, 25 percent of current instructors are eligible for retirement. Not to mention that the private sector offers more competitive salaries to help fill the rising vacancies.

"I honestly don't know what is going to happen over there, but I hope they can find away to fund all of education," says Dickson.

There simply may not be enough money to go around. The regular legislative session is se to end May 9.


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