Grand Rapids, Mich. (WZZM) -- Health care experts say Michigan's expected nursing shortage may not be as bad as once thought. The state was bracing for deficit of nearly 18,000 nurses by the end of the decade. For years the medical community warned how the growing nursing shortage could jeopardize the industry and people's ability to get quality care.
"We've said we're in dire straights and things are awful related to nurses and having enough nurses," said Shawn Ulreich, the chair of The West Michigan Nursing Advisory Council.
Ulreich says the medical community medical community has spent a lot of time and money attracting quality candidates to the field to reduce the chances of reaching a critical shortage. Members of the council, whose primary purpose has been to address the nursing shortage, believes there may be reason to have renewed hope.
Well, over the past ten years we've worked really hard in this country to turn that situation around and we have," she said. "Johnson & Johnson investing millions of dollars into a campaign to support nursing and to get people interested. The schools of nursing have done a fabulous job trying to open their doors even wider to nursing students and service organizations have offered scholarships and different things to entice people."
But will newer nurses find jobs waiting for them? The answer to that question remains unclear because older nurses are now less likely to retire.
"When the economy is not so good, nurses tend to stay in the workforce a little longer. It's a phenomenon that's happening and we know that it will change as the economy improves over the next couple of years," said Ulreich,
She admits while things are definitely looking up, they still have much more work to do.
"One of our concerns is certainly is that we have people leaving Michigan. We would love to see more jobs in the state of Michigan so more nurses come here as well," said Ulreich. "Our concern in West Michigan is actually the concern we have for the whole state and that is more jobs that stabilize the population and actually grow the population in the state of Michigan"