Expanded training opportunities one avenue to address nursing shortage

Small Towns

Rural Nebraska’s health care facilities are facing a nursing shortage and projections show the trend will continue if it is not adequately addressed. 

According to the Nebraska Center for Nursing, by 2025 the state could see a shortage of 5,435 nurses, a number that will hit hardest in rural communities already experiencing workforce challenges in all areas of care. The nurse-to-patient ratio in 73 of Nebraska's 93 counties is lower than the national average, with some having no registered nurses.  

There’s no easy answer to the question of how to attract, educate, and retain a rural health care workforce. One piece of legislation introduced in the Nebraska Legislature will establish more options for student and career nurses to have robust training opportunities.

Introduced by Sen. Jana Hughes, Legislative Bill 586 would provide funding for the Nebraska Center for Nursing to develop and expand clinical training sites in areas of the state with the lowest number of registered nurses.

A valuable insight into the profession, clinical training offers nursing students a hands-on experience and enhances their understanding and application of classroom learning. 

Through this experience, students will learn from nurses who’ve been exposed to and have the skill set to address a wide range of services. In rural areas where clinics and hospitals are spread out, nurses are often the first to see patients experiencing emergencies such as a farm equipment accident or preterm labor. 

If students are able to have their clinical training in these settings there’s a higher likelihood they will continue their career in a rural hospital or clinic, especially if they are from a rural community. Clinical training can also be valuable in the retention of nurses, as it offers opportunities for continued education.

As lawmakers and community leaders look to improve rural health care services, LB 586 would establish more places for nurses to continue their education and we encourage Nebraska lawmakers to advance the bill.