— An acute case of demand overwhelming supply has put nursing on the critical list across the Mountain Empire region, health care officials said Tuesday. “The challenge of finding a sufficient supply of nurses is a nationwide topic,” said Greg Neal, president jobs for nurse educators and CEO of Bristol Regional Medical Center. “The current shortfall of nurses is projected to be at 800,000 by 2020, and rural areas are having a hard time as well.” However, some help is on the way. An agreement signed Thursday by BRMC and Virginia Highlands Community College will allow the community college to admit 20 additional nursing students each year, starting with the 2017-18 academic year, according to Dr. Kathy Mitchell, dean of nursing and allied health. “We had meetings with hospital staff to talk about how we could increase enrollment so there would be more graduates for the hospital to hire,” Mitchell said during a news conference at BRMC. “We talked, and in order to do that, we have to be able to have more adjunct faculty and more clinical space as well.” To accomplish that goal, Mitchell said VHCC will provide faculty for curriculum instruction, while BRMC will be responsible for much of the clinical instruction students receive. Wellmont will also fund another part-time faculty member at VHCC who will assist with skills and assessment courses, as well as help in the simulation lab at the college. “The educational institutions that we have in the region are excellent providers of nursing education but are limited in their capacity to train new graduates,” Neal said.
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