The United States is experiencing a nationwide nursing shortage, and Alabama is no exception. Auburn University’s College of Nursing (CON) is doing its part to solve the problem.
The Alabama Board of Nursing surveyed its members and found that almost 39,000 nurses in the state expect to leave the profession in the next five years. Based on that information, the nursing shortage in Alabama could surge from the current deficit of 5,000 nurses to a staggering 14,000 by 2027.
On Nov. 9, local health care providers will be celebrating Alabama Frontline Nurses Day, an opportunity to recognize the important role that nurses play in the care and safety of patients in the local health care system.
Many CON graduates are choosing to stay in state. Some of these young alumni were born and raised in Alabama, and they are taking jobs close to home to help combat the nursing shortage and provide care for their neighbors and communities.
“With us being a land-grant institute, a lot of our students go back to their smaller hometowns,” said Hope Carroll, the college’s coordinator of clinical placement. “They want to represent Auburn in the state of Alabama.”
“As the semesters went on I really started to cherish how special Alabama is to me. I am early in my career, but I have come across people from all over the state, and it just feels really good to be able to help my neighbors.”
Lexie Schoenrock, who graduated from CON in August, is one of those students.
“I chose to stay in Alabama because I feel it is important to care for those in the community where I grew up,” she said. “It’s a rural area and the hospital I work in is the closest one, though it is still an hour drive.”
Not only do graduates stay in the state to work, but many of them return to Auburn as clinical instructors to share their knowledge with the next generation of nurses. Each semester, roughly 60% of CON’s clinical instructors are Auburn grads.
“So many of our clinical instructors are also our graduates, and they’re just giving back to the profession,” Carroll said. “We average 70 to 78 clinical instructors each semester, and they’re teaching and practicing all over the state of Alabama.”
Auburn graduates an average of 210 students with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing each year. Through partnerships with local health care providers and innovations like CON’s new Apprenticeship program, Auburn will continue to produce highly qualified nurses ready to enter the workforce in the state of Alabama.
“I chose to stay in Alabama because it is important that I make an impact in the state I have lived in my entire life,” said August graduate Halaya Harmon. “I am thankful to have the opportunity to work at Children’s of Alabama in the Neonatal ICU. I was confident in my decision to stay in my home state because I love my neighbors, and I am so excited to have the opportunity to care for their families!”
Recent graduates like Chase Stocks are finding the decisions they made as students have turned out to be the right call.
“As the semesters went on I really started to cherish how special Alabama is to me," he said. "I am early in my career, but I have come across people from all over the state, and it just feels really good to be able to help my neighbors.”