U.S. NURSING SHORTAGE WILL ONLY WORSEN AS BABY BOOMERS AGE. The Department
of Labor projects that more than 1 million new and replacement nurses will
be needed by 2012, and nursing schools across the United States are scrambling
to expand faculty and enrollment levels to help meet that mark.
And this country is one of the lucky ones. In countries hardest hit by poverty and disease, the nurses who struggle to hold together already fragile health care structures are slipping away. In Kenya, for example, large numbers of nurses are dying of AIDS, a disease that affects 40% of adults in parts of that country. Older nurses frequently walk away from nursing, exhausted by what has been asked of them. Others—healthy, experienced, at the peak of their careers—are wooed by richer nations trying to solve their own nursing shortage.
While training a steadily growing number of nurse leaders for this country, including scarce doctoral-level nurses desperately needed as faculty in nursing schools, the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing has never lost sight of the role nurses play in protecting the health of vulnerable people worldwide. The school’s Lillian Carter Center for International Nursing (LCCIN) works closely with governmental chief nursing and medical officers in more than 80 countries to help reverse the flow of nurses from the very countries that need them most.
Here are several ways the school is helping: In Kenya, the LCCIN has analyzed nursing workforce data, providing the Kenya Ministry of Health and Nursing Council an essential tool to rebuild nursing capacity and sustainability. In the Caribbean, where a 35% nurse vacancy threatens a health disaster in this country’s back yard, the nursing school recruits students who promise to return home after receiving their degree; other Emory nursing students and recent graduates spend time working in the Caribbean as well. For faculty and students at Emory, being a leader starts at home, but it doesn’t have to stay there.
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