Top Georgia Nursing Schools, Colleges & Degree Programs
Georgia, just like many other states across the country, is experiencing a serious nursing shortage. It currently ranks 9th in the list of states with the most dire need for nurses, with 3,340 vacancies needing to be filled in 2011 alone. What is more worrying is that this number is growing exponentially.
Indeed, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is expecting an exponential growth in the demand for new nurses between now and 2020. This is due to a number of factors. The aging population and its changing health needs is a particular problem, including the health needs due to the obesity epidemic. Additionally, a substantial percentage of the nursing workforce is approaching retirement age very rapidly, particularly because many nurses have put off retiring when the economic crisis hit. Additionally, due to the health care reforms, and due to the fact that the nation’s population is growing, the demand for nurses is increased further.
Interestingly, despite the fact that Georgia is home to 22 schools that are registered with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 3,570 potential nursing students had to be turned away, even though these would have been enough to fill the shortage. This demonstrates an extremely high need for nurse educators. Without an educating workforce, it will not possible to meet future demands.
The average annual salary for registered nurses in Georgia is $61,670, which is well below the national average. This generally does not make the state a very attractive place to work, although it must be said that the cost of living is a lot lower here too. However, as Georgia is relying quite strongly on bringing in nurses from other states, the lower than average salary makes the task for recruiting more difficult.
Many nurses in Georgia work in hospitals. However, since there is a strong push to free up hospital beds as quickly as possible, there are also many opportunities in community care settings, home health and nursing homes. Additionally, some 59.1% of all people in Georgia live in medically underserved areas, which are mainly rural areas.
As in all states, the strongest demand is for the highest educated nurses. Most employers will require at least a bachelor’s degree, although many would prefer a master’s degree level. Indeed, financial support is offered through employers to encourage their staff members who have a BSN to work towards their MSN. However, because so many students have to be turned away, this assistance can often not be delivered where it is needed the most.