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National nursing shortage: How each of Siouxland’s three states are being affected

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Nursing Shortage

SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - There is a national shortage of nurses, some attributing it to burnout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Another reason, retirement has arrived for the baby boomer generation.

One of the nursing programs working to prepare future nurses for the career as staff shortages affect Siouxland and beyond is St. Luke's College - UnityPoint Health. The college offers various healthcare jobs, one of them being nursing. And that program hopes to add to the next generation of registered nurses.

"We've been trying to do that, you know, with the Associate Degree Nursing program. In two years, someone can get in, achieve that goal of becoming a nurse and get into the field of nursing. We really value that, but making sure that they feel well-prepared for that first position that they will have in nursing," said Lorraine Sacino Murphy, St Luke's College's Academic Dean.

The need for nurses will grow by 7% to take care of the baby boomer population, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But another reason making nurses hang up their scrubs: burnout, especially from the pandemic. Something St. Luke's College hopes to prepare nursing students for and help them avoid it early in their career.

"One thing that we try to have, we have a lot of clinical experiences for our students. So what that does, is it puts them at the bedside, with the nurses, and then they can see what the role actually entails. Burnout is definitely something that we discuss and talking about ways to do self-care, and to be protective of that, that is definitely part of our curriculum," said Murphy.

Finding the future of healthcare doesn't have to start in college, it can peak a student's interest as early as high school. Murphy says now is the time for anyone interested in a medical career to make a move.

"You know, are always looking for that next generation of healthcare providers. So it's, it's continuous, it's something that we will, you will always need will always need health care," said Murphy.

Another issue regarding the shortage is that populated cities are becoming hubs for nurses, leaving rural communities with the difficulty of recruiting.

Below is a breakdown of how the nursing shortage is affecting each Siouxland state.


The Iowa Board of Nursing did a survey to determine if the state had a nursing shortage:

  • 35.7% of those surveyed said the shortage was moderate.
  • 35.9% said the shortage was great.
  • 19.4% said the shortage was extreme.
  • 8.9% said the shortage was slight.

The top three challenges according to the survey's respondents were finding qualified candidates, turnover and attrition, and the ability to hire new employees.


The Nebraska Center for Nursing says there are six counties in the state with no registered nurses, and six counties with only one registered nurse. However, none of those counties are in Siouxland.

The center's data says 58% of Nebraska nurses are employed in hospitals, while 2% of the state's RNs are unemployed. The statewide shortage is expected to continue through 2025. Projected numbers for 2025 show a shortage of 340 nurses in northeast Nebraska.

South Dakota

From 2015 to 2016, about 1,700 registered nurses left South Dakota, according to the state nursing board.

Last year, more than 2,500 nurses dropped out of the state workforce. Currently, 14% of the state's nurses live in the southeastern portion of South Dakota. But when it comes to recruiting, the state is at a disadvantage because the median pay is the lowest in the nation. That's according to federal labor data.

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Claire Bradshaw

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