NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Nursing students shouldn't have any trouble finding a job after they graduate. That's because nurses are in high demand right now across the nation.
"It's projected that by 2024, we're going to need over another million nurses added to the work force," said LSU Health New Orleans Nursing Dean Demetrius Porche, DNS, Ph.D.
Porche said in Louisiana, there's an increased request to produce more graduates in the schools of nursing because of the workforce need at nearby hospitals.
"The turnover you have in the hospitals from people changing jobs, from the retirements that are happening - it's a continual exodus and entry within the hospital setting," Porche said.
The number of nurses reaching retirement age, an aging population, and the fact that more people are now eligible for health care are contributing to the shortage. We're also told not as many young people are interested in a nursing career these days.
"In Louisiana, we're seeing a decrease of about 6% per year that are seeking enrollment in schools of nursing," said Louisiana State Nurses Association President Georgia Johnson.
Not only are job prospects good for graduates, some hospitals are now offering big incentives to recruit nurses.
"There are bonuses that are being signed on, there's contracts for multi-year employment that they're providing to the students," said Porche.
Over the past year, the new V.A. hospital hired around 200 nurses, and they're now looking to hire many more because they're growing.
"We're looking to fill between a 125 and 150 more. We're a large facility, so we've brought up our beds in sequence so we have more units that we want to staff, and that number will help us get all of our beds open," said Patient Care Services Associate Director Brinda Williams-Morgan.
While the nationwide shortage is good news for graduates, Porche said it's important to have a strong nursing work force because fewer nurses means fewer patients can be cared for.
"The nursing workforce really dictates to the hospitals how many beds can actually be opened within their facility because all of those beds have to be staffed with nursing care. So if you don't have enough nurses, then you're not going to have enough beds available," Porche said.
The V.A. nurse hiring fair will take place Saturday (March 10) from 8 a.m.until noon at the new Veterans Medical Center at 2400 Canal Street in New Orleans. They're hiring registered nurses to work in a number of different areas. We're told that recent nursing graduates and licensed practical nurses will also be considered.