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Nursing vacancies remain at an all-time high across Mississippi

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 7:30 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 25, 2021 at 7:33 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Nursing vacancies remain at an all-time high across the state, and the pandemic has worsened this problem at many hospitals.

But some local colleges are seeing an increase in nursing admissions. Mississippi College is one of them.

It’s Monday, and Mississippi College Accelerated Nursing Student Michaela Mitchell is heading to class. She began the program this January, during the height of the pandemic.

“When I told people I was going to nursing school, they kind of looked at me like I was crazy. They were like, really, right now with everything going on?”

After watching nurses on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19 to save lives, Mitchell says she wanted to join this courageous team.

“I have a bachelor’s degree in another discipline other than nursing, and I have kind of been going back-and-forth trying to decide if I wanted to do nursing. Honestly, with the pandemic and seeing how the nurses were on the frontlines and how much work they were doing to help on the pandemic it solidified my choice, and I was like okay, nursing it is.”

She is one of more than 200 students who entered the nursing program at Mississippi College this year. Applications from prospective students have also increased.

“We’ve had more who have changed majors and who have decided to come into the nursing, so our overall numbers have increased instead of decreasing in relation to our student pool, so that is kind of exciting,” said Kimberly Sharp, MC School of Nursing Dean.

This increase comes at a critical time in health care, especially in Mississippi.

The Mississippi Board of Nursing data shows serious nursing vacancies have been a problem since before the pandemic. From 2017 to 2020, nursing vacancies have more than doubled.

  • 2017 nurse vacancy rate 5.9% (473)
  • 2018 nurse vacancy rate 9.2% (732)
  • 2019 nurse vacancy rate 11.4% (1,179)
  • 2020 nurse vacancy rate 12.3% (1,541))

“Nurses are there with patients all the time, and they liaise with all of the different healthcare disciplines, so that need for nurses to be part of a solution for some of the challenges that we’re facing is incredibly important,” said Sharp.

“You know this younger generation of nurses, we have we have a unique experience when we started school in the middle of a pandemic, and we have seen things that most people normally wouldn’t of had to deal with our age, and so I think hopefully we can possibly bring a different perspective into the field.”

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