Why is There a Nursing Shortage in Alaska?

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Well-trained nurses are needed everywhere across the U.S., but no state has a bigger shortfall than Alaska. According to a recent study from the Alaska Hospital and Healthcare Association, registered nursing positions in the state have a 24% vacancy rate and 1,500 nurses are needed each year to keep up with demand. But many nurses left the career during the pandemic and they’re not coming back. Do you want an in-demand career where you can literally help save lives? Becoming a nurse in Alaska may be a good option for you and a great one for The Last Frontier! Take a look at why there’s a shortage and what you can do about it.

The COVID-19 Pandemic

Healthcare workers were hit hard by the pandemic. With more patients than available beds, around-the-clock care needed for the sickest patients, and little information about the COVID-19 virus, it was a difficult time to work in healthcare. Many nurses nearing retirement decided to opt out of the profession; others faced burnout. According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, approximately 100,000 registered nurses left the profession and more than 600,000 intend to leave or retire by 2027.

License Wait Times

To become a nurse in Alaska, you need training and a nursing license. But wait times for licensure can be three to four months. Even with efforts to reduce the path and time to licensure for nurses in the state, there will still be a backlog of vacancies.

Traveling Nurses

As a partial remedy to the shortage, Alaska has relied on traveling nurses to fill gaps in the workforce. Up to a third of nurses working in emergency rooms in Alaska may be from somewhere else. It’s a short-term and costly strategy that may actually worsen the shortage. Salaries that could be spent on residents are now inflated and spent on outsiders who may go home at any time.

Benefits of Becoming a Nurse in Alaska

Besides the demand, there are other reasons to consider becoming a nurse in Alaska. With thousands of open positions in the state, you have more options for the kind of facility you work at and where in the state you locate. You can also:

  • Help Others—As a nurse, you can feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in the work you do. Every day, you can help improve patient health, share your knowledge and expertise with patients and coworkers, and make a difference.
  • Find Flexible Schedules—Nursing is often not a 9-to-5 job. You may work 10-hour or 12-hour shifts for a few days, and then receive the rest of the week off. And because of the demand, your employer may be more willing to work with your schedule to keep you on the team.
  • Earn Well—According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Alaska is among the top paying states for registered nurses.

If you’re ready to make a difference in the lives of others, and to meet the growing demand for nurses in Alaska, contact Charter College today. We offer an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing that can prepare you for entry-level work in the field. Call 888-200-9942 or fill out the form to learn more.