Health column: What happened to my nurse? |

Health column: What happened to my nurse?

Judson Haims
Staff Photo |

The United States is in a nursing profession shortage.

Pick your source; they all indicate that we are in a nursing shortage. According to a study from Georgetown University, “the health care sector will create 5.6 million new jobs by 2020.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics states, “Registered nurses are a barn-burner profession and should result in 526,800 new positions created at a rate of 19.4 percent.”

The government occupational handbook states that the nursing job outlook from 2012 to 2022 will grow 19 percent faster than average. It also says, “Growth will occur for a number of reasons, including an increased emphasis on preventative care; growing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity; and demand for health-care services from the baby boomer population, as they live longer and more active lives.”

If this piques your interest, then you will be relieved to know that Colorado is making great strides in addressing medical needs and the economics of medicine. A couple years ago, John Hickenlooper, in “The State of Health: Colorado’s Commitment to Become the Healthiest State,” announced, “We will build on Colorado’s unique strengths — including our strong health economy and infrastructure and our dedication to collaboration and innovation — to become the healthiest state.” If you have been down to Denver in the past year, perhaps you may have seen some hospital redevelopment. According to a Colorado Public News examination, some 50 hospital construction projects are in development throughout the state with a $3.4 billion price tag.

Wow, this is all great news, ehh? Not so fast! The American Association of Colleges of Nursing conducted a report in 2012 that states, “Nursing schools turned away 79,659 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2012 due to an insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors and budget constraints.” Further, the Bureau of Labor Statistics informs us that the percentage of nursing educators 50 years of age and older exceeds 60 percent.

While Colorado may be growing at exceptional rates of young professionals, entrepreneurs and corporations, our nursing field is aging. According to statistics from the Colorado Center of Nursing Excellence, “Thirty-two percent (21,000) of Colorado’s nurses are over the age of 55; 4,500 active registered nurses are already over the age of 65. Even with the short-term impact of the recession, 2,000 nurses are expected to retire annually over the next 10 years.”

Locally, Colorado Mountain College is on target by providing a number of courses in nursing at the Glenwood Springs, Edwards and Summit County campuses. The school’s nursing program is approved by the Colorado State Board of Nursing. Many of the school’s students not only are able to be introduced to a career in nursing at CMC, but they are able to obtain multiple levels of credentials and even employment within our mountain towns.

We are fortunate to have our local community colleges address our nationwide need so close to home. These colleges are creating new economies for the state and our local communities.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Garfield County. His contact information is,, 970-328-5526

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