NAU combats nursing shortage with new nursing labs

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The college of nursing at NAU is warning that Arizona may soon be facing a nursing shortage crisis.

NAU projects that by 2025, Arizona will have the largest shortage of nurses in the nation. Rural areas in particular, NAU warns, will likely be the most affected. But the college is unveiling new simulation labs for nursing students and changes to the nursing program that they hope can remedy the situation.

Dr. Janina Johnson, the Dean of the NAU College of Nursing, sheds light on the factors contributing to this shortage and how NAU is working to address them. With over 3 million registered nurses and 5 million nursing professionals nationwide, the importance of the nursing profession in our healthcare system cannot be overstated.

One key reason for the shortage is the aging population, leading to an increased demand for healthcare services. As both nurses and the general population age, the need for nursing care continues to grow, especially with the rising prevalence of chronic illnesses.

The COVID-19 pandemic made this shortage worsen, as some nurses opted for early retirement while others faced increased workloads and burnout. Despite these challenges, NAU remains committed to training future nurses to meet the evolving needs of the healthcare industry.

NAU’s American Indian nursing program, established in 1996, has seen a surge in applicants, particularly from Native American communities. This program aims to empower Native American students to serve their communities by providing culturally sensitive healthcare.

NAU has also invested in state-of-the-art simulation labs, allowing students to gain hands-on experience in simulated clinical environments. These labs simulate real-world scenarios, preparing students for the challenges they will face as practicing nurses.

Dr. Johnson emphasizes the importance of community feedback in assessing the effectiveness of these programs. While the shortage of nurses remains a pressing issue, the continued interest in NAU’s nursing programs is a positive sign for the future of nursing education.

For more information about NAU’s nursing programs, visit their website https://nau.edu/nursing/.

Janina C Johnson, DNP, RN, CNE, Dean, NAU College of Nursing

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