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Nursing shortage: Will crisis boost numbers?

Professors at local nursing schools hope for more students and more healthcare workers.

SCRANTON, Pa. — Experts say there is a nursing shortage, both here in northeastern and central Pennsylvania and all across the country.

"19 percent of nurses are between the ages of 55 and 64. We do need nurses on the front line, so certainly, we need to garner students to come into the profession and even those who are a little bit older and are looking for a career change or those looking for a change after maybe raising a family," said Dr. Jo Ann Nicoteri of the University of Scranton.

Professors at the University of Scranton and Misericordia University's nursing programs hope this health crisis inspires more people to join the field.

"We are hopeful that people want to join the ranks of nursing, but I think there are two sides to this: one is there is a group of people who want to get in there, they can't wait to get in there and take care of patients, the other group are people who are slightly afraid," said Dr. Annette Weiss of Misericordia University.

Graduates of those nursing programs have reached out to their former professors, sharing stories of their jobs during this pandemic, one they call incredibly tough but also rewarding.

"Some of them have written very powerful letters and notes to us, poems just ways to kind of verbalize what's going on. Some students don't want to talk about it to their families, they get home, they're done, they need to find a way to reconnect differently," said Dr. Kimberly Subasic of the University of Scranton.

Those at the nursing schools said they do worry about the economy; some may not be able to afford the education to become nurses.

Those professors believe local, state, and federal leaders need to do more to help.

"There is some legislation that is currently out there; they are working on providing more scholarships to go into nursing and different health care providers to go back to school and go into school," said Dr. Weiss.

Nursing professors said the nurses coping with this pandemic can help future generations by sharing their experiences and helping teach others what they have learned during this difficult time.