Skilled to Work: Thousands of registered nurses are needed in Alabama

One human resources manager said the nursing population is aging out faster than it is being replaced.

Posted: Jan 31, 2019 12:42 PM
Updated: Jan 31, 2019 9:41 PM

Nursing care has always been in high demand across the United States. However, since the early 80s, Andrea Rosler noted that “demand has quadrupled.”

As the vice president of human resources, Rosler is in charge of hiring and training at Huntsville Hospital. She said there aren't’ nearly enough nurses entering the workforce as they need.

Abby Malone (center) works alongside two of her nursing colleagues at Huntsville Hosptial's Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit. The hospital, like others across the state, face the challenge of a lack of new nurses coming into the workforce. Abby Malone (center) works alongside two of her nursing colleagues at Huntsville Hosptial's Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit. The hospital, like others across the state, face the challenge of a lack of new nurses coming into the workforce.

“As the population has aged and the demand has increased, the supply of nursing has not kept up with that,” said Rosler.

“So as you probably have heard over the years, we at any given time, have well over 200 RN positions, not to mention the other types of paraprofessionals, openings at any given time.”

And that's just one hospital.

According to the Alabama Department of Labor, across the state, there are projected to be 3,275 openings each year on average between 2016 and 2026.

A driver of the nursing shortage, Rosler said, is due to the strength of the economy in the United States in recent years.

“What we have found is that when the economy is not doing well, then people who are in nursing come back to nursing,” said Rosler.

One of the younger nurses at Huntsville Hospital is Abby Malone. She graduated from Auburn University’s School of Nursing and joined the hospital staff two years ago.

“I knew I wanted to be in a career that was challenging, that was engaging and allowed me to kind of pursue my passion of helping others and nursing checked all those boxes,” said Malone.

Malone believes another barrier to the workforce for some is that they don’t really understand what nursing really entails.

“I think when most people think of nursing, the immediately jump to bedside. But it’s not always just bedside nursing. There are so many different ways you can go with one degree. So it’s a very versatile degree,” said Malone.

Historically, the field has been primarily female. Right now, Rosler said the ratio is about 80-20 female.

Troy Biggs works in the Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit at Huntsville Hospital and said he didn’t give much thought about being a male nurse when he made that career choice.

His grandfather on his dad’s side of the family was a small-town physician and inspired him to go into medicine.

He said he found the challenge of the work exciting and added that his schedule allows him plenty of time to see his family.

“The full-time schedule is three, 12-hour shifts a week. They're very long days, but you’ve got four other days that you can work over-time shifts, get a second job, make more money or I tend to try and spend more time with my family on my off days,” said Biggs.

And while there are plenty of nursing programs that are offered at four-year colleges like Auburn, the University of Alabama in Huntsville or the University of South Alabama, anyone can become a registered nurse with a two-year associates degree.

Some employers, like Huntsville Hospital, even have programs to reimburse tuition.

“You start at $40,000, $45,000 a year and then there are many opportunities after that to get specialization to get advanced degrees and I think it’s something that’s a good starting point for anybody,” said Rosler.

According to the Alabama Department of Labor, registered nurses across the State of Alabama made $57,887 per year on average in 2017. 

But for nurses like Malone, the job is far more than a paycheck.

“It’s not just that we’re just here passing meds and following through with orders, we’re here and we’re the last line of defense for this patient and make sure that they get the care they need,” said Malone.

To learn more about registered nurses, click here.

Huntsville
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 63°
Florence
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 66°
Fayetteville
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 64°
Decatur
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 63°
Scottsboro
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 63°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 138162

Reported Deaths: 2405
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson20221352
Mobile13558295
Tuscaloosa9029118
Montgomery8894187
Madison800580
Shelby616450
Lee601761
Baldwin564052
Marshall398345
Etowah357545
Calhoun356944
Morgan334929
Houston295421
Elmore273948
DeKalb246121
St. Clair237937
Walker236987
Talladega219030
Limestone215720
Cullman192220
Dallas179926
Franklin179430
Autauga179127
Russell17903
Lauderdale175934
Colbert168426
Blount162915
Escambia162024
Jackson161112
Chilton160930
Dale141844
Covington141628
Coffee13936
Pike122011
Chambers117942
Tallapoosa117385
Clarke110916
Marion97629
Butler91740
Barbour8967
Winston75112
Marengo72820
Pickens67215
Randolph67213
Bibb66411
Lowndes65927
Hale65328
Geneva6505
Lawrence63625
Cherokee62013
Bullock61015
Clay5929
Monroe5928
Washington56012
Crenshaw54532
Perry5436
Conecuh53811
Wilcox53211
Henry5145
Macon48318
Fayette47311
Sumter43419
Cleburne4085
Lamar3822
Choctaw35212
Greene30615
Coosa1743
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 196139

Reported Deaths: 2454
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby31202472
Davidson26874312
Hamilton968795
Knox968180
Rutherford952392
Williamson542336
Sumner492298
Wilson360547
Putnam338344
Montgomery317446
Unassigned30834
Madison306366
Bradley298817
Out of TN293927
Sevier267715
Blount258924
Maury245726
Washington239338
Sullivan226533
Robertson225539
Hamblen196528
Tipton186019
Gibson174625
Trousdale16757
Hardeman158926
Wayne15055
Dyer143017
Bedford138017
Coffee130214
Dickson129716
Fayette123621
Weakley123421
Loudon12267
Anderson122413
Cumberland122319
Obion122011
Carter119928
Henderson119524
Greene118546
McMinn117626
Jefferson116114
Lawrence110814
Warren10857
Monroe108319
Hardin107716
Macon107021
Lauderdale101716
Franklin101010
Haywood100623
McNairy93018
Lake9282
Carroll91720
Roane9176
Bledsoe8644
Rhea86315
White85610
Hawkins84320
Cheatham8289
Marshall7915
Overton7826
Cocke75910
Johnson7523
Smith74511
Giles65417
Chester65311
Lincoln6461
Henry64010
Hickman6128
Fentress5884
DeKalb57614
Crockett55819
Marion5558
Decatur5387
Campbell4674
Claiborne4495
Polk41010
Grainger4043
Union3822
Benton3428
Jackson3355
Grundy3266
Morgan3253
Cannon3041
Unicoi2921
Humphreys2683
Sequatchie2493
Clay2435
Houston2432
Meigs2313
Scott2252
Stewart2232
Lewis2111
Moore1881
Van Buren1670
Perry1530
Pickett1312
Hancock1093

Community Events