Top West Virginia Nursing Schools, Colleges & Degree Programs
Although there is a nursing shortage in West Virginia, it is not as acute as in other parts of the country. However, this could change rapidly if no immediate action is taken, because the state does face the same changing demographics as in any other part of the nation. Mainly, the issues are the growing and aging population across the board.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the demand for nurses will grow by 19% by 2020. This is something that must be addressed now, because that is based on the current workforce remaining in place, which it won’t. It won’t because the workforce is aging rapidly. Indeed, the economic crisis meant that many nurses who had reached retirement age had only decided to continue working until the crisis was over, but they are now retiring in large numbers.
Nowhere is this felt more acutely than in the Nurse Educator workforce. There are just seven schools in the state accredited through the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and they had to refuse enrollment to 274 qualified students in the last academic year. Additionally, although some 2,407 students are currently enrolled in these programs, only a very small percentage is studying towards an advanced practice degree. This means that the number of students who have to be turned away is likely to get higher, as it is simply impossible to replace faculty staff.
At the minute, there are 62 medically underserved areas in the state, and 102 health professional shortage areas. This is affecting 76.65% of the population and the situation could get much worse still. The baby boomer generation is getting older and their health needs are becoming more complex. Additionally, the obesity epidemic is leading to an increase in diabetes, heart disease and other such complications, which is putting more pressure on the health care sector. Two other important factors are the fact that the Affordable Care Act has increased demand on healthcare tremendously, and the fact that hospitals are trying to free up hospital beds by encouraging more care in the community.
The average salary for a registered nurse in West Virginia is just $53,030, which is well below the national average of $64,241. This is something the state must seriously address if they intend to attract and retain more nurses. The salary is much higher for those who have higher degrees, particularly those with bachelor’s or master’s degrees.