Registered nursing ranks second highest in the state in terms of jobs that need to be filled, right behind truck drivers and before fast-food workers. So, how is Sakakawea Medical Center in Hazen is dealing with the shortage?
“We just all have to pitch in and help out wherever we are needed. Your day to day doesn’t look the same. You may be asked to do things you haven’t done before,” said Molly Nelson, a registered nurse.
Right now the center has seven nursing positions open, the most they have ever had. The concerning part is those positions have been open for a year.
“I have known people who have gone to nursing school and are no longer nurses. Some of it is the hours and that doesn’t always work with the family environment. Some of it is the traumatic things we see,” said Mitchell Dean, a licensed practical nurse.
But the medical center is hoping, through the Dakota Nursing Program, those open positions will be filled.
“The program we offer is an 11 month LPN program, so they come into the program here and they are able to take their theory classes and then we offer all the hands-on training at the hospital,” said Lacey Johnsrud, patient care coordinator.
It’s geared to keep more people in the field and most importantly working in North Dakota.
Right now they are keeping the medical center running with nine nurses, and say having just four more would alleviate the strain on the team.
Despite the shortage, nurses are keeping the Sakakawea Medical Center moving by being 100 percent passionately committed to their jobs.
“Healthcare is a challenging field, but you come back day after day because of the patients you take care of and what they mean to you,” said Nelson.
Job Service North Dakota sees a huge spike in the gap between job openings and available workers. In October 2018, there were 2,022 open healthcare jobs in the state. A year later, that number increased by 478 to 2,500 open healthcare jobs.
In Burleigh and Morton Counties, there are 593 open nursing jobs.
Having a shortage in workers is a tough issue to address and it’s one that’s not going away, anytime soon.