A study finds Iowa could lose many thousands of nurses in less than a decade and face what’s described as a critical shortage of the vital caregivers. Bonnie Wiltse is spokeswoman for the Iowa Council of Nurses. She says over the next ten years, nurses will be retiring just from those that are age 51 to 60 now. Others, will be leaving as Iowa exports nurses across the country — mostly younger nurses. Wiltse, a retired nursing administrator from Sioux City, says part of the problem is a lack of people to recruit and train new nurses. A survey of nursing faculty showed that 49-percent plan to retire by 2010. In the fall of 2001 there were already 40 nursing faculty vacancies throughout the state. Wiltse says pay is another problem. She says Iowa ranks 50th in the nation in average starting pay for hospital nurses. The average starting salary for a hospital nurse in Iowa is 16-dollars-76 cents an hour. The national average starting pay is 21-dollars-38-cents. The top-paying state is Hawaii where the starting hourly wage is 27-dollars-37-cents. A copy of the study can be found on the Iowa Board of Nursing website at http://www.state.ia.us/nursing.
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