Alaska is experiencing a significant shortage of nurses, just like most other states. There is a particularly large shortage of nurse educators, there being only one AACN accredited school in the state. As a result, some 57 potential students are being turned away from getting the education that they need.
Some 84 Health Professional Shortage Areas exist in the state, affecting 35.95% of the overall population. Additionally, as the population of Alaska is aging, the shortage of healthcare workers is aggravated. Many members of the current nursing workforce are approaching retirement age, which could potentially put more stress on the workforce. The Affordable Care Act is also exerting additional pressure on the demand for nurses.
Furthermore, there is a drive across the country to shorten the amount of time people spend in the hospital. Practitioners are trying to speed up bed turnover times, with a stronger focus on at home and community care. Alaska is no different and many nurses work outside of hospitals, focusing on care in the community and nursing homes.
A particular problem in Alaska can be found in the devastating effects caused by alcohol. Nurses who have a specialization in addictive behavior are therefore highly sought after in the state. Because demand is so high, Alaska is offering a number of scholarships and other programs so that those with an interest in the field are able to get started. However, the shortage of nurse educators means that many of those who would like to become a member of the workforce are unable to do so.
The average salary for a registered nurse in Alaska is $74,970. However, there is a lot of variation in salaries depending on where a nurse is employed, the specific role and specialization. The best places to work in terms of salary are Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Palmer, Sitka and Wasilla.
The four nursing licenses available in Alaska are the Certified Nurse Anesthetist, the Advanced Nurse Practitioner, the Registered Nurse and the Licensed Practical Nurse. Only the first two require a master’s degree. However, just as with other states throughout the country, those with the highest levels of education are also most in demand.
There are currently some 7,519 registered nurses in the state, of which 10.3% are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs). The four main specializations that are currently in demand are Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Midwives, Nurse Anesthetists and Clinical Nurse Specialists.