Nursing Shortage

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A day after America remembers 9/11, new terror threats persist. From law enforcement to hospital personnel, many workers are operating under heightened security, but an ongoing nursing shortage could make it difficult for many hospitals to respond to terrorism.

Nurses in Rockford Memorial's ER are the backbone of hospitals, spending more time with patients than doctors, therapists or administrators, but across the country more than 126,000 nursing positions are vacant creating challenges for hospitals and patients.

In addition to an aging workforce, administrators are battling more competition when recruiting nurses.

"There are so many roles and new setting for nurses to practice in beyond the traditional hospitals. Whether it's free standing emergency rooms, physicians offices or ambulatory care centers," says Irene Strejc.

OSF St. Anthony's hospital enjoys a nursing vacancy of fewer than two percent. Administrators here say they've found the prescription to recruiting and more importantly retaining nurses. OSF is finding ways to reward nurses for development and involve them in advisory groups.

Rockford Memorial is implementing similar programs they hope will eventually provide a remedy for the nursing shortage. According to a national study, 45 states have shortages of quality nurses and many hospitals are looking overseas for other candidates.