Oklahoma lawmakers work to tackle the nursing shortage

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 6:27 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Oklahoma Lawmakers worked to tackle the nursing shortage which continues to affect the nation, by holding an interim hearing to get to the root of the crisis.

Danielle Duggins, the RN director at Comanche County Memorial Hospital, said she’s been in the nursing industry for 11 years and over that time period the industry has changed drastically

Oklahoma is one of many states which has seen the number of nurses drop to dangerous levels since the pandemic, affecting hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living centers, and more.

Danielle Duggins, a nurse in Lawton, said a big reason is bedside nursing isn’t as attractive as it used to be.

“Nursing as a whole opportunity has changed a lot, there’s a lot of telehealth out there. There’s a lot of home-based health out there. And, I think nurses are seeking those opportunities before bedside,” she said.

Duggins said the nursing shortage has an even bigger impact on rural hospitals.

“So getting people to stay home at a rural hospital is something that we face, that we struggle with,” she said.

Oklahoma legislatures have passed several bills this year to use ARPA funds for universities in order to increase capacity in state nursing training programs.

“We get a lot of our LPN’s from Great Plains that do their preceptorship, and they have such a great experience there that we get a lot of new hires from just that program in particular. And then, through our OU program, we have partnered with them to do an internship with our critical care areas and a few of them have signed on with us as well. So, that’s a really awesome program,” she said.

Oklahoma State Representative, Marilyn Stark, said nurses have expressed concerns when being asked to work long shifts and take on extra responsibilities in very challenging settings, while at the same time trying to balance their own personal needs or those of their families.

As for Duggins, she said nursing is her calling.

“I couldn’t think of anything else I would want to do, other than take care of people,” she said

Senate Bill 1458 has allocated $55 million of the state’s ARPA funding to establish grant programs to help 21 state colleges, universities, and technology centers address the nursing shortage.