Is There a Nursing Shortage in Region 8?

PIGGOTT, AR -- A nationwide trend for a shortage of nurses continues, but that's not necessarily the trend all across Region 8.  Many smaller clinics in the area say they don't have a problem keeping the needed nurses on staff, but it can be a different story for hospitals.

Some hospitals in Region 8 like the Piggott Community Hospital in Clay County have seen the number of nurses fluctuate.

"We have seen a nursing shortage in the past several years.  It's not been as bad in the last three years.  We've had more nurses staying closer to home to work," said Tonney Dement.

Tonney Dement is the director of nursing of PCH and said there are many reasons for this, one being the high price of gas and the location.

"It's also hard to recruit to this area.  If people aren't from a small town, it's hard to get them to migrate here," said Dement.

"One bright spot for many hospitals and clinics in Region 8 are the numerous schools that offer nursing programs," said Dement.

On Wednesday, a job fair at ASU is allowing nursing students to look at their future prospects and recruiters say the nursing field has a big pull for many students.

"People are able to stay in their area and provide for their families and go to school at the same time," said Stephanie Taylor.

Nursing students do internships while in school that take them inside a hospital or clinic and many times they will be hired to fill a nursing position.

"We have seen more nurses come back home to work in the hometown facility," said Dement.

While places like the Piggott Community Hospital are doing pretty good now, Dement said that could change in the next few years.

"The whole population of nurses is aging and they're going to retire and then there's not going to be enough people to fill the positions of the retiring nurses," said Dement.