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Thursday, March 7, 2024

The Nursing Shortage and Louisiana


The forecast is not optimistic, but programs are available

Many patients enter the healthcare setting seeking care. Nurses provide most of the services needed and are readily available to nurture, deliver and promote healthcare to patients seeking healing. Despite the exceptional, holistic care nurses continue to provide, does it blindside the patients and community leaders to the fact that healthcare facilities continue to face significant nursing shortages? Nursing is a demanding field that provides care in multiple settings, from highacuity settings in hospitals and long-term care facilities to clinics and schools. The National Nursing Shortage Task Force Act of 2023 projects needing about 200,000 additional registered nurses (RNs) each year over the next decade, with an estimated 28% (1,000,000) leaving the profession over the next five years. The staggering effect of these statistics will have a detrimental impact on the healthcare system as we continue to deal with the turnover COVID-19 caused in the healthcare workforce with nurses nationwide.

In Louisiana, the ongoing impact of the nursing shortage is apparent. According to the Louisiana Board of Regents (2022), there will be approximately a 42% (6,182) decrease in the nursing workforce by 2030. Data shows that only 4,478 out of 10,660 RN positions may be filled. The nursing shortage will be a concerning and frightening situation when nurses are unavailable to care for patients.

The profound impact that the nursing shortage can have on the healthcare workforce is a domino effect on patients and staff. The need can ultimately affect the patient-to-staff ratio, leading to increased workloads, possible patient errors, nurse burnout and nurses leaving the profession. Other factors contributing to the shortage include a lack of available nursing faculty and funding for education, qualified students not being admitted to nursing schools due to unavailable slots and a lack of diversity in Louisiana’s nursing workforce. In 2020, data showed that Louisiana admitted 72% (3,611) of qualified applicants (4,992) to pre-RN licensure programs, indicating that 28% (1,381) of those qualified students failed to enter a pre-RN program to become an RN. The Louisiana State University Health System has taken immediate action to address the concern of nursing students being turned away from nursing programs despite being qualified and looking deeply into the nursing shortage that looms over Louisiana, particularly in the Northwest region.

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) in New Orleans has long been very reputable with the growth and excellence of its School of Nursing (SON) program. Currently, the SON offers multiple nursing degrees, including a traditional BSN-RN, Career Alternative RN Education (CARE), BSN-RN, MSN, DNP and Ph.D. While these programs have grown and flourished over the years, the SON and LSU Health Shreveport have answered the call to address the concern for the nursing shortage. LSUHSC New Orleans has joined with LSU Health Shreveport to offer students an off-campus instructional site to pursue their dreams of becoming an RN and advancing their careers with the following three programs:

CARE BSN Program

The Career Alternative RN Education (CARE) Program, leading to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, is designed for individuals who have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in any field and would like to become a nurse. The program of study is for two years and prepares graduates for the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. Courses are offered in a face-to-face format on the LSU Health Shreveport campus.

RN to BSN Program

The Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) Program is designed for registered nurses with associate degrees or diplomas in nursing. The RN-BSN program can be completed in 12 months of full-time enrollment or longer for part-time enrollment. Courses are offered in a hybrid format with face-to-face and online courses.

MSN Nurse Educator Program

The MSN Nurse Educator Program targets and prepares registered nurses with earned BSN degrees and at least one year of clinical experience to become nurse educators and accomplish their career goals in academic, practice and service settings. This online program is an intensive master’s track designed for completion in four semesters.

The timing of these nursing program offerings is critical as our community faces a nursing shortage. In northwest Louisiana alone, there are over 500 open nursing positions. It is imperative to recognize where we stand as a state with the care and education of nurses, as nurses are essential to the healthcare workforce. Nurses provide much-needed care, compassion and communication to our patients, families and communities. Louisiana cannot ignore the call for more nurses!

Gelinia Jackson, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, is an instructor of clinical nursing and the Off-Campus Instructional Site Program coordinator at LSU Health Shreveport. Linda Manfrin Ledet, DNS, APRN, PMHCNS-BC, is an assistant professor of nursing and the Off-Campus Instructional Site Program director at LSU Health Shreveport.


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