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Nursing wages rise, shortage continues

Luck has no magical formula. It surely comes when readiness meets an opportunity. For the 17,000 Filipino board passers in the June 2006 nursing examination, job opportunities in and outside the United States continue to beckon.

However, the question on the nursing board passers’ preparedness, which sprang from the reportedly tainted test results, seems to suggest their luck won’t come any sooner.

The issue on the exam leak has snowballed, settling on a move for selective retake of the examination based on the recommendation of the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools.


The shortage of nurses that US healthcare industry needs to fill up hits hundreds of thousands.

John L. Moore, in his March 17 article on The Morning News,, wrote that the shortage continues despite rising wages of nurses.

Moore has quoted Steve Percival, director of human resources at Washington Regional Medical System, saying [that he] and his counterparts at other hospitals have a tough job trying to keep their hospitals fully staffed with nurses.

He said the health care industry has bemoaned the nursing shortage for more than a decade, and that more will be needed for additional patients as the Baby Boom generations age.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projected in 2005 more than 3.1 million registered nurse jobs would be available by 2014. That would add more than 700,000 new jobs for nurses, Moore said.

If other projections from the American Hospital Association hold true, the country could have a shortfall of 600,000 nurses by 2020, said Mike Meeks, senior vice president for Northwest Health System.

Paul Cunningham, senior vice president of the Arkansas Hospital Association, said that one of the problems in getting a larger supply of nurses into the US health care system is the lack of qualified nursing faculty for the nursing schools.

Cunningham said many faculty members of nursing programs are approaching 50 and beyond and are thinking about retirement in the next five to eight years.

Nursing schools at both NorthWest Arkansas Community College and the University of Arkansas have expanded their programs in recent years, but recruiting nursing faculty can be a challenge, officials for both schools said.

Quoting other sources, Moore also cited another reason for shortage of nurses being the multiple opportunities for work out side the hospital setting. Managed care organizations, insurance companies, doctor's offices, nursing homes, diagnostic laboratories, pharmaceutical companies and medical software companies also hire nurses.

Citing a 2007 Minority Nurse magazine article, Moore said that the average salary of a registered nurse in Oakland, Calif. alone is $80,270 per year, adding that the projected number of new jobs added for registered nurses between 2004 and 2014 is 703,000.

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