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How Pittsburgh is working to avoid nursing shortage

Channel 11 is looking out for your health. We heard the country could be facing a critical nursing shortage in the next four years, so we started looking at what Pittsburgh is doing to try to avoid that.

The American Nurses Association says the country will need 1 million new nurses to graduate by 2022 to meet the health care needs of the nation's aging population. We asked UPMC Chief Nurse Executive Holly Lorenz what she is doing to meet that need.

"I challenged every school of nursing to double their enrollment," Lorenz said. "I told them without a doubt, we'd be able to hire that many nurses."

The schools would like to meet that demand, but they are facing several roadblocks. Some schools have faculty shortages. Then, hospitals don't have the resources to provide enough bedside learning opportunities. Even if the schools did graduate more nurses, many aren't choosing to work in hospitals.


"I think people shy away from the hospital because they're nervous or scared, you have people's lives at stake," said Katelyn Lloyd, a student nurse at UPMC.

Another problem facing nursing students is specialty experience. Experts say student nurses don't get enough training opportunities in pediatrics, obstetrics and mental health.


We asked what this all means for the future of patient health. Lorenz told us over the next decade and a half, health care is going to start to focusing more on preventative care.

"I think there are going to be more and more roles that are going to focus on prevention," Lorenz said. "I think you're going to see us start focusing care on people more at risk and doing much more prevention."

Lorenz said that doesn't necessarily mean you need fewer nurses. Instead, it means looking for nurses who want to do their work differently.