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Colleges get creative to address nurse shortage

Nursing Education
Posted at 3:16 PM, Apr 13, 2022

BERLIN, N.H. — Amid a nationwide nursing shortage, schools across the country are looking for creative new ways to get students quickly into the health care job pipeline, as post-pandemic life begins to come into clearer view.

Sarah Baillargeon is a long-time nurse herself and now serves as the nursing program coordinator for White Mountains Community College in Berlin, New Hampshire.

Barely 700 students are currently enrolled in classes here. But this small school community college is trying to make big inroads when it comes to addressing the current nursing shortage crisis.

"From California east and from Mexico north I have recruiters calling me from all over. Offering bonuses, offering to pay for their schooling," Baillargeon said.

There's one rural hospital in this town of ten thousand. They are in desperate need of all kinds of nurses including Licensed Practical Nurses or LPNs.

"Community colleges really come from the point of view of educating people in our community," Baillargeon added.

White Mountain Community College didn't have an LPN program to help feed the pipeline, so this year they started one.

Chuck Lloyd is the President of White Mountains Community College. He is constantly trying to better adapt education programs here to address community needs.

"They're calling us and saying we need employees can you build that curriculum," Lloyd said.

Unlike Registered Nurse programs, LPN programs can get students in and out the door in under a year. From New York to Alabama to the Dakotas, more and more community schools are adding LPN licensure programs to address nationwide staffing needs.

Anne Woods is Wolters Kluwer’s Chief Nurse and studies the industry as a whole. She sees this as a larger post-pandemic trend. Many hospitals now moving away from traditional 12-hour shifts.

"We have to fill the pipeline so we have to find alternative ways of doing it," she said.

Back in the White Mountains the end of the semester is very quickly approaching. Sarah Baillargeon hopes that the end of spring out here ushers in a new season of healthcare as well.

"We’re kind of the heartbeat of healthcare."