Topeka State higher education officials Wednesday approved a plan aimed at easing the worsening nursing shortage.
"We have a significant nursing shortage in Kansas, and there are pockets with severe nursing shortages, Wichita being one of them," said Terri Roberts, executive director of the Kansas State Nurses Assn.
The Kansas Board of Regents recommended the Legislature adopt a plan that calls for a $5.6 million increase to nursing programs throughout the state, including Kansas University. The funds will go toward improvements needed to accommodate 250 more nursing student admissions each year.
The plan also recommends an additional $2.15 million over the next 10 years to pay for nurses and educators to obtain master's nursing degrees; those people will then teach prospective nurses.
"Part of the pipeline that is broken is that we don't have enough nursing faculty," Roberts said. She said faculty nurses also needed to be paid more because they could earn much more working in hospitals.
The proposal now goes to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and the Legislature for consideration.
Roberts described the plan as a conservative approach to the shortage problem.
Kansas, like most states, has experienced a nursing shortage as the population ages and places greater demands on the health care system.
Nationally, the shortage of qualified health care workers is expected to be 12 percent by 2010 and 29 percent by 2020.
In Kansas, the shortage is similar, with 11,350 more registered nurses needed by 2010 and nearly 29,000 more by 2020.