SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS/WRSP) — A shortage of nurses across Central Illinois is raising concerns about how hospitals will care for patients as COVID-19 cases rise.
For years now, there have been so many nurses retiring that the hiring can't keep up.
The pandemic has only made this issue more apparent.
However, the nursing program at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) created a Springfield campus to help solve this problem, and it's stronger than ever amid the pandemic.
They're partnering with Memorial Health System to train Central Illinois students to become Central Illinois nurses.
UIC Professor Sara McPherson said she's seeing even more passion in her students during this pandemic.
"It's very rewarding to be a part of graduating nurses who stay local in the area and can help fulfill this shortage, and continue to take care of patients, families, in the community," McPherson said.
The university has still been holding clinical and lab courses in person throughout the pandemic so students can get more real-world experience.
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts there will be 176,000 job openings for nurses every year for at least the next decade.