(MENA) Mena Regional Health System’s Chief Nursing Officer Richard Billingsley, DNP, MHA, MS, RN spoke to the Mena / Polk County Rotary Club recently regarding the nationwide nursing shortage and the efforts of Mena Regional Health System to recruit and retain these professionals.
“In healthcare, as in other occupations, our workforce is our biggest strength and strongest asset. The U.S. has been dealing with a nursing shortage in varying degrees for decades, due to an aging population, rising incidence of chronic disease, an aging workforce, and limited capacity of nursing schools. This shortage is becoming a crisis, with implications for patients, communities, and health care providers,” Doctor Richard Billingsley stated.
Additionally, Doctor Billingsley continued to share that America’s 3 million nurses make up the largest segment of the health care workforce in the United States, and continues to be one of the fastest growing occupations in the country, but the demands continue to outpace the supply.
It is predicted that by 2025, the shortage will be twice as large as any nurse shortage experienced since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in the mid-1960s. Many factors including the aging baby boomers, an aging population, aging of the nursing workforce and nursing faculty shortages have had an impact on the shortage. New graduates leaving the profession within two years of graduation and the strong competition for nurses have also influenced the decline.
With these concerns, Mena Regional Health System is focusing on the nursing shortage using a two- prong approach: Recruitment and Retention. “We have the capacity to train more nursing students than our current yearly number of 36 Practical Nursing students and 25 Professional students. MRHS has increased the number of scholarships to support those interested in the nursing profession and will continue to provide an enhanced orientation and increased support for the training of these future nurses. The core values of integrity, compassion, accountability, respect and excellence are our focus.”
Doctor Billingsley has a strong passion for nursing and providing quality patient-centered care, therefore he continues striving to re-ignite the passion for nursing through clinical training to support their learning needs and development, providing recognition for exceptional care delivery, promoting continuing education of the workforce by encouraging nurses to continue their academic education, and providing leadership training for nurses interested in clinical leadership roles.
During his presentation, Dr. Billingsley shared his appreciation for the substantial partnership between Mena Regional Health System and the distinguished nursing program at UA Rich Mountain.
The two entities continue to strive diligently to increase interest in the field of nursing and provide extensive support for those who make that career choice.