In just 20 years, the Wisconsin Center for Nursing predicts Wisconsin could see a shortage of 20,000 registered nurses. There are a few reasons for the shortage and no quick solution.
Being a nurse takes a special type of person.
"Somebody who really is compassionate. Somebody who enjoys being a nurse and who has a big heart," Dani Kicilinski, nurse manager at the Tomah VA, said.
That type of person is going to be in high demand in the next 20 years. According to a report from the Wisconsin Center for Nursing, the state's RN workforce is about to see a sharp decline as many nurses hit retirement age.
In addition, the number of people that need care is increasing in the next few decades; that number will grow more than 100 percent and the industry is already feeling the hurt.
"The demand there is out there for nurses whether it's nursing assistants, RNs or LPNs," Tomah VA Medical Center Director Mario V. DeSanctis said.
According to the report from the Wisconsin Center for Nursing, 26 percent of Wisconsin nurses plan to leave patient care within the next two to nine years and another 43 percent after 10 years.
"I think if that does happen and does occur as predicted, then I think the rural facilities like our facility here in Tomah will be impacted," DeSanctis said.
Local medical centers might bear the brunt of that hurt.
"We don't have the ability in all cases to compete with some of the larger urban facilites," DeSanctis said.
DeSanctis says rural areas like Tomah will need to find ways to attract nurses to their hospitals and clinics.
"The way we compensate for that is to try to offer recruiting and retention incentives, and also to try to be more up close and personal with those that may be interested in employment," DeSanctis said.
"Providing great care is caring about the person, the family and also just having solid nursing skills," Kicilinski said.
As demand for nurses continues to grow, nursing students with that particular personality and skill set may find securing a job after college won't be too difficult.
By the year 2035, the Center for Nursing expects to see a 123 percent increase in people who need care, as the Baby Boom generation retires.