This article was written by Frontier Nursing University (FNU) President, Dr. Susan Stone, DNSc, CNM, FACNM, FAAN and was originally published in the Woodford Neighbors magazine, February 2022 issue.
In December, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear declared the state’s chronic nursing shortage an emergency and announced executive actions aimed at boosting enrollment in nursing programs. This was in response to projections that Kentucky will need over 16,000 additional nurses by 2024 to fill the gaps left by those who retire or leave the profession.
With more than 3.8 million registered nurses in the U.S., nurses comprise the largest component of the nation’s healthcare workforce. Kentucky is not alone in its need for more nurses. The shortage extends to every state and well beyond our borders. According to the World Health Organization, the world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives if it is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.
Nurses focus on promoting optimal health. They care not only for the sick but also provide guidance to improve long-term health. This forms a partnership between nurse and patient that promotes ongoing health. This partnership results in a high level of trust between patients and nurses. In an annual Gallup poll, nursing has been ranked number one as the most honest and ethical profession for 19 consecutive years, with 89% of Americans rating nurses’ honesty and ethical standards as “high” or “very high”.
Nurses focus on promoting optimal health. They care not only for the sick but also provide guidance to improve long-term health.”
The expertise and versatility of nurses have been brought into focus during the pandemic. Nurses have been called upon to assume additional responsibilities and leadership roles. They have organized testing and vaccination sites, such as the one conducted jointly by the Woodford County Health Department and FNU last year, and taken on the task of directing hospitals and clinics and providing guidance on healthcare systems and programs.
The pandemic has stressed our healthcare system, but the nursing shortage existed before the pandemic and will persist after it. At FNU, we are proud to be a leader in the changes needed to address shortages. Our mission is “to provide accessible nurse-midwifery and nurse practitioner education to prepare competent, entrepreneurial, ethical, and compassionate leaders in primary care to serve all individuals with an emphasis on women and families in diverse, rural, and underserved populations.” The nurse practitioners and nurse-midwives who graduate from FNU are prepared to meet the challenges and needs of their communities.
Nurse practitioners, who are trained with a blend of medical and nursing education, are qualified to provide the level of care necessary to help fulfill our nation’s primary care needs. Similarly, further integration of nurse-midwives in communities across the country is essential to improving our nation’s maternal care. A recent study found that states that have done the most to integrate midwives into their healthcare systems “have better outcomes for mothers and babies”, including fewer interventions and significantly lower rates of cesarean sections.
With more than 2,500 students located in every state in the United States on course to join our more than 8,000 alumni, FNU is preparing these much-needed advanced practice nurses and nurse-midwives to be part of the solution to the shortage of healthcare providers in their communities across Kentucky and the nation. The work we are doing has never been more important.
We are so thankful to call Woodford County, Ky. our home and for the opportunities our students and graduates have here. We hope our community shares our pride in the important roles our graduates play in reducing our nation’s healthcare shortages.