LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - A new report shows the demand for health care workers, such as nurses and lab technicians, is increasing rapidly.
The report, which comes from the Wisconsin Hospital Association, shows that vacancy rates among registered nurses and certified nursing assistants have doubled since 2012.
It also shows that a little more than 40 percent of Wisconsin nurses have indicated that they will retire within 10 years.
It's a problem local hospitals are trying to overcome.
Krystal Carter has been a registered nurse at Mayo Clinic Health System since February.
"Helping people when they're at their worst moments is really the biggest thing, and being able to be that support person for them and help them get through it," Carter said.
But officials at Mayo say nurses like Carter will become more important in the years to come.
"It's a perfect storm as they would say,” Diane Holmay, chief nursing officer for Mayor Clinic Health System, said. “But I think one of the biggest changes in the next 5-10 years or so is the growing number of people retiring."
Compounding the issue is the job turnover in the nursing industry.
"It might be a hospital nurse going to a clinic, or a hospital nurse going into public health, and that's what we call the churn, and we're seeing that in our region and our hospital locally here,” Holmay said.
Officials say the solution to getting nursing students to stay in their hospital job is to get them into a hospital position sooner.
"We did a pilot -- it's a very successful (one) -- on our seventh medical floor where we created a dedicated education unit,” Holmay said. “We know if we can get them in the door and try us out, that we can retain a higher proportion of students coming from our three main facilities."
Once there, officials say it’s about keeping those employees happy.
"Having incentives, things like tuition reimbursement, encouraging them to go back to school -(and) making sure they are in the right fit for the job,” Holmay said.
Carter says with the support she's received, she doesn't plan on going anywhere.
"I know Mayo offers bonuses and pay increases quite frequently and you feel appreciated, and I think that's most important,” Carter said.
Officials at Mayo say it's the specialized jobs, like surgical technicians and neonatal intensive care nurses, are the jobs that are in most demand now.
What's making the shortage worse is the fact that the general population is getting older and needing more and more medical care.
The full report can be found here.
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