According to a Wisconsin Center for Nursing report, Wisconsin could see a shortage of 20,000 nurses by 2035.
"We've got a number of things that are impacting that whole scenario, and I usually describe it to people as the coming together of a perfect storm," said Judith Hansen, executive director of the Wisconsin Center for Nursing.
It is expected a significant number of nurses will retire in the next five to 10 years. The recession forced many nurses to hold off on retirement because of financial losses. The economic recovery will allow those retirements to occur in the coming years.
"They are looking at greater than 20 percent of our workforce retiring within five to nine years, and we are looking at even losing more than 50 percent in 10 or more years from now," said Kay Grotelueschen, associate dean of nursing at Madison College.
In addition, the demand for health care will increase in the coming years as the population ages.
"By the year 2035, we're expecting a 123 percent increase in people over 85, which means a lot of people from the boomer generation. There's going to be greater demand placed on the health care system," Hansen said.
While providing education for additional nurses might seem a simple solution, it is complicated by the fact that many of the current nurses who serve as instructors in nursing schools will reach retirement age as well. To replace them will require getting nurses higher levels of education that will allow them to serve as teachers.
"It is absolutely essential for us to increase our enrollment in our nursing schools and to graduate as many as we possibly can, and to ensure that nurses move on to the higher levels of education that are required," Grotelueschen said.
The Wisconsin Center for Nursing has laid out a series of strategies and recommendations that they say will allow the state to address the nursing shortage.
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