The president of the American Nurses Association will be in Iowa today to encourage those in the profession to carry on, despite increasing challenges. Barbara Blakeney says she has hope for nursing and hope for the patients, even though Iowa faces a critical shortage of nurses. A study earlier this month found more than six-thousand Iowa nurses plan to retire within the next decade and few replacements are being trained.In addition to the expected nurse retirements, the study from the Iowa Council of Nurses finds many nursing faculty are planning to retire too — those who train new nurses. Also, nurses who are trained in Iowa are heavily recruited to take jobs out of state where the pay is higher. Blakeney says Iowa faces a two-fold dilemma: too many retiring nurses and many new nurses disappearing as fast as they graduate.Iowa ranks 50th in the nation in average starting pay for hospital nurses. The average 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. Blakeney says she’d like to see many changes in the health care profession, including the fixing of Medicaid reimbursements which differ from state to state.Blakeney is addressing the annual convention of the Iowa Nurses Association and the Iowa Association of Nursing Students at 10:30 A-M on Thursday at University Park Holiday Inn in West Des Moines. Blakeney lives in Boston while the American Nurses Association is based in Washington D-C. The full study mentioned above can be found on the Iowa Board of Nursing website at