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HomeNewsArchivesSeveral Prescriptions Needed to Cure Nursing Shortage, Licensing Officials Say

Several Prescriptions Needed to Cure Nursing Shortage, Licensing Officials Say

July 20, 2007 — While raising salaries and recruiting more local students may help reduce the territory's nursing shortage, there is also a need to get more people interested in the profession, representatives from the Board of Nurse Licensure said Friday.
During the first round of budget hearings, the board's territorial executive director, Diane Ruan-Viville, explained that many students going to college "just aren't interested" in becoming nurses, keeping the average age of the territory's nurses between 40 and 60. To combat this problem, she suggested that scholarship funds offered to local students be combined with a mandate that requires nursing-school graduates to work within the territory for a certain number of years.
Low starting salaries, which begin at about $36,000, should also be increased to prevent local nurses from going abroad, Ruan-Viville said, adding that the average salaries for nurses in some states is as high as $60,000 per year.
A lack of nurses isn't the only problem, however. The board is also currently suffering from a lack of staff, keeping it from moving forward in many of its licensing efforts, Ruan-Viville explained.
Consequently, the board is requesting for fiscal year 2008 a budget appropriation of $214,339, which would cover the salaries and corresponding fringe benefits for at least two more employees. The board's request is about $33,000 more than the recommended General Fund appropriation included in the miscellaneous section of the FY 2008 budget proposal, which is set at $189,339.
Personnel costs will also be covered by the appropriation of another $145,125 from the Nurse Licensure Revolving Fund, a collection of fees, penalties and other revenues generated by the board throughout the year. If the funds are approved by the Legislature, the board's overall FY 2008 budget would total approximately $362,464.
Funding the full budget request would allow the board to accomplish a variety of goals over the next fiscal year, board representatives added. This includes improving the board's website, creating an online process for renewing nursing certificates and streamlining the board's daily operating standards.
Present during Friday's meeting were Sens. Liston Davis, Carlton "Ital" Dowe, Juan Figueroa-Serville, Neville James, Terrence "Positive" Nelson and James Weber III.
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