Report: Nurse shortage looms in area
Aging population, coming retirements will lead to demand

By AMANDA VOSS - Daily News

April 30, 2015

Wisconsin could face a nursing workforce crisis with a shortage of registered nurses growing to nearly 20,000 in the state by 2035.

That comes from “The Wisconsin Nursing Workforce: Status and Recommendations,” a report from the Wisconsin Center for Nursing.

Alfred Jefferson, manager of human resources for Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin St. Joseph’s Hospital, said the statistics in the report are from 2013, the most recent data available.

“There’s a significant amount of nurses close to retirement,” Jefferson said. “There won’t be enough nurses to manage the demand.”

According to the report, the crisis in the nursing workforce is being driven by the growing elderly population, aging nurse population, continuing nurse educator shortage and the impact of health care reform.

Because of the aging population, there is a substantial increase in the demand for nurses. According to the report, baby boomers older than 65 will increase 111 percent in Wisconsin and people 85 and older will increase 133 percent by 2035.

Jefferson said the baby boomers will need extra care and it’s nurses’ responsibility to fill that need.

According to the report, Wisconsin schools graduate more than 3,000 nurses a year. In 2020, nursing school graduates would need to more than double to meet the projected demand.

Jefferson said, statistically, there’s not enough nursing students graduating to meet the demand.

“What will happen in the next 10 years is the aging population will grow. Then we’ll see a problem,” Jefferson said.

Shelly Waala, executive director of patient care services and nurse executive for St. Joseph’s Hospital, said the hospital partners with nursing schools and provides orientation, staff mentoring and clinical rotation. St. Joseph’s Hospital partners with schools like Moraine Park Technical College, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, UW-Milwaukee and Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee.

Angie Krewald of West Bend, a MPTC nursing student, has completed a clinical at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

She said her motivation to become a nurse came from contact she had with nurses. She said she had great nurse when her first son was born and when her other son had health problems.

“I remember thinking I wanted to be that for someone else,” Krewald said.

“I always knew I wanted to be a nurse,” she said. “I just needed to do it.”

Krewald’s goal when she went into the program was to become a labor and delivery nurse, but that changed when she saw how many opportunities there were. She said she likes teaching and is thinking about being a diabetes educator or nursing instructor.

“I love the education aspect,” she said.

She had three clinicals in her first year, which she’s completing on top of her classwork. She said it takes what she learns in class and makes it applicable.

Next spring, Krewald will gradate with an associate’s degree in nursing and plans to get her bachelor’s degree.

According to the report, there is also a need for academic progression of nurses moving from an associate’s degree to a bachelor’s degree in an effort to ensure patient safety and meet the expanding roles of registered nurses.