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Crying need for faculty
Shelly Quint, director of nursing at Clark College, said turnover of college faculty also should be addressed. She said pay is low for educators in nursing compared to that of working nurses, making recruitment difficult.
"If we don't have faculty, we won't have nurses," she said.
The response to ads for job openings for medical educators, at Clark College clearly illustrates the problem, according to Robert Knight, Clark College president.
"We get one or two applicants," he said. "It's tough."
There is no lack of students applying to get into the college programs, however. Quint said they turn hundreds of qualified applicants away because the college does not have enough staff and the area doesn't have enough clinical sites for training.
Part of that problem is being addressed through a simulation lab at Clark College's nursing center at WSUV, where students tackle real-life situations on "dummy" patients. The college is also working to get nursing programs offered online, Quint said. She said theory can be successfully studied online.
"Distance education is a must to get new graduates," she said.
Murray said Monday's discussion showed her there is not a lack of people interested in medical careers, just a need to accommodate them.
The panel said wages need to be higher both for professionals in the field and for teachers in the classroom to draw people to Southwest Washington.