Nursing shortage impact in the Tennessee Valley

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — There is a nursing shortage across the country and here in the Tennessee Valley.

Hospitals and nursing schools are dealing with this issue.

Nurses are hard at work at CHI memorial. Here and across the country there has been a nursing shortage.

“The challenge is recruiting nurses to meet the growing population in our region. So we have seen this beginning five years ago as some of the top tier of our workforce has begun to retire. The schools have had a steady state of production, but I would say on top of the number of students that are produced in our school systems and our universities our population is growing,” said Rhonda Hatfield, the chief nursing officer at CHI Memorial.

They hire at least 125 students a year through their accredited nurse residency.

“Our largest challenge, what is true is bedside nursing or medical surgical nursing that is where the patients are located before they go home after surgery at day three and day four,” Hatfield said.

They offer incentives like a $20,000 sign on bonus for some medical surgical and bedside nursing positions.

“We look at loan forgiveness for students. Those are nursing practices and physician practices that are common after the workforce gets out of school for two to five years to help them support the tuition and the loans they accrued during college,” Hatfield said.

The Lee University School of Nursing started in 2014. Sara Campbell, the School of Nursing Dean, realizes the nursing shortage issue.

“That has been a prediction that has been coming and now is coming to fruition we are seeing it in the hospitals and in the region and we have been trying to work, the schools of nursing have been working with them to try to figure out how to best meet the demands that they are having now for nurses,” Campbell said.

She urges people to get in the field.

“Nursing is a fabulous career. It is hard work but it is really fulfilling,” Campbell said.

According to Hatfield, right now there are roughly 700 nurses at CHI Memorial.

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