Aging Population Likely To Mean Need For More Nurses

A nursing shortage in western North Carolina and elsewhere could get worse as many nurses retire in the coming years.

Besides an aging nurse population, there's a shortage of nurse educators, and experts say the nursing supply will have a hard time meeting the anticipated demand.

Cynthia Busche is a 48-year-old nurse at Mission Hospitals in Asheville. She says she's seen other nursing shortages during her career. But she says the projections for the future are scary.

Brenda Cleary, director of the North Carolina Center for Nursing, says hospitals and other health care facilities will be forced to deliver care despite the shortages. But she says that could mean the quality of care isn't as good.

The average nurse vacancy rate is about 8 percent for hospitals statewide.