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FOR RELEASE: May 1, 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

National Nurses Week, May 6-12
Nursing: a Profession and a Passion

The work of America's 2.9 million registered nurses to save lives and to maintain the health of millions of individuals is the focus of this year's National Nurses Week, May 6-12. Public health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) would like to take this opportunity to recognize the hard work and dedication of nurses in Oklahoma and the need to continue recruiting and training nurses as demand for their services increases.

The American Nurses Association has selected "Nursing: A Profession and a Passion" as the theme for National Nurses Week which begins on May 6, marked as RN Recognition Day, and ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, founder of nursing as a modern profession.

National Nurses Week is devoted to highlighting the diverse ways in which registered nurses, the largest health care profession, are working to improve health care. From bedside nursing in hospitals and long-term care facilities to public health clinics and the halls of research institutions, the nursing profession is meeting the expanding
health care needs of American society.

In a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the United States is described as currently having a nurse shortage of nearly 150,000 RNs, with a shortage of more than 800,000 RNs expected by the year 2020. Because of the current and projected shortages, OSDH public health officials want to encourage men and women to consider the field of nursing as a career. Demand for registered nursing service is expected to grow as the number of Americans age 65 and older increases. Some factors contributing to the nursing shortage include:

  • Enrollment in schools of nursing is not growing fast enough to meet the projected demand for nurses over the next ten years.
  • A shortage of nursing school faculty is restricting nursing program enrollments.
  • With fewer new nurses entering the profession, the average age of the RN is climbing.
  • The total population of registered nurses is growing at the slowest rate in 20 years.
  • Changing demographics signal a need for more nurses to care for our aging population.
  • Job burnout and dissatisfaction are driving nurses to leave the profession.
  • High nurse turnover and vacancy rates are affecting access to health care.

Please join the Cabinet Secretary for Health and State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher and OSDH Chief of Nursing Diana Pistole, MPH, RN, in celebrating the contributions nurses make to Oklahoma communities.

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