Area needs registered nurses

PARKERSBURG – The Parkersburg area will continue to have a need for registered nurses, according to a report from a Northern Pandhandle college.

West Liberty University this week released its West Virginia Jobs and Education Report. The annual study compares the anticipated job market in West Virginia with the corresponding degrees awarded by the state’s colleges and universities.

The purpose of the report, published by the Institute for Innovation in Education at West Liberty University, is to analyze the ability of the state’s post-secondary institutions to meet the demands of the labor market.

The high unemployment rate that persists both statewide and across the nation has been signaling a worsening in the labor markets, the report stated. However, certain occupations are expected to experience above-average job growth.

The estimated labor surplus for registered nurses is -200 percent of annual graduates, the report said. If graduates with associate degrees in nursing are added to the supply, this number goes down to -102 percent.

“It is clear that public universities will need to double their enrollment to meet the state’s demand for nurses,” the report stated. “Even if four-year degrees offered by private universities are factored in, there will still be a shortage of 433 nursing graduates annually.”

Camden Clark Medical Center Director of Human Resources Susie McCauley said the medical center has around 550 staff nurses at the Memorial and St. Joseph’s campuses, not including nurse managers and specialty nurses at the center which would bring the total up to around 700.

The medical center is recruiting for 15-20 nursing positions, some being part-time and some being full-time positions, McCauley said.

The medical center hires nurses with both an associate and bachelor’s. Nurses working in special fields such as education, case management and information systems are required to have a bachelor’s.

“We encourage our nurses to go ahead and get their bachelor’s degree,” McCauley said. “We have a number of nurses going back to school to get their bachelor’s.”

The medical center has programs available to assist nurses going back to school.

McCauley said she cannot envision when they will not need nurses. With many in the baby boomer generation starting to retire, qualified nurses will be needed to fill those positions.

“There is a definite need,” she said.

The report from West Liberty also shows needs for graduates with a degree in social work. Annual graduation rates would need to increase by 25 percent to meet this annual demand, the report stated.

Computer and information sciences graduates will be in high demand, the report stated.

“Even if all universities are taken into account, the annual shortage is estimated to be 44 percent of total graduates,” the report said. “There are also only two public universities (in West Virginia) that offer an undergraduate degree in computer engineering. This creates a shortage of 34 graduates, more than double the number of annual graduates.”

Medical related associate degrees, mainly offered by community colleges, will be in demand for such fields as radiologic technology, paramedic sciences, medical transcription, medical laboratory technician and dental technician. A doctorate in veterinary medicine and a master’s in library sciences are not offered in West Virginia, creating a shortage of 16 and 15 graduates annually, the report said.

The report said some programs produce significantly more graduates than needed.

“While 76 additional jobs are expected to be available annually in education counseling/psychology, 407 students graduate with related degrees annually, leading to a surplus of 81 percent of annual graduates,” the report said. “Industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and civil engineering are some of the other programs that are projected to produce more graduates than needed.”

The inclusion of graduates with master’s in education creates a surplus of 234 graduates for the occupation of education administrators. While only 14 jobs will be available for chemists, 92 students will graduate with a chemistry degree.