US in great need of nurses

Local hospitals find it difficult to recruit and retain qualified nurses.

That's according to a study from the Healthcare Association of New York State. They surveyed more than 125 hospitals state-wide, and found that the vacancy rate is close to nine percent. That's up from around six percent in 2006.

"The report seems to correspond to what we have observed over the past decade...the need to turn around a real erosion in our workforce," said Association spokeswoman Nancy Webber.

Webber thinks there are a number of reasons for the shortage. "One is recruitment and getting more individuals interested in entering the nursing profession, but I think just as important is retention...making a workplace that they want to stay in," Webber said.

The Healthcare Association says there has to be investments in nursing education to increase the supply of RNs and to ensure quality patient care.

The US population is projected to grow at least 18% over two decades in the 21st century, while the population of those sixty-five and older is expected to increase three times that rate. The current shortfall of nurses is projected at over 1 million by the year 2020.

This week the nation is celebrating National Nurses Week.