Need for nurses in southern Oregon

Medford, Ore. — There’s a big need for nurses in the valley. According to the Oregon Employment Department the health care industry is not only the largest industry in the area, but it’s the fastest growing. And experts say it shows no signs of slowing down.

Kate Kitchell is the nurse manager for the medical-surgical unit at Providence Hospital. If there’s a need on her floor, she’ll notice.

“We’re growing as a hospital, we’re growing as a community, we’re always in need of good nurses,” Kitchell says.

The hospital employs 300 nurses, but human resources director, Julie Levison says there are always openings.

“We have over 43 openings at this point,” Levison says.

The need for nurses, is nothing new for the Rogue Valley. Workforce analyst, Anoura Oussenbeck says the health care industry is the only industry that has had continued growth even in a severe recession.

“We are not graduating nurses fast enough,” Oussenbeck says, “there is more and more demand there.”

Providence’s HR director says the hospital will hire temporary nurses to come and help fill nursing positions when there are vacancies. It currently has traveling nurses working now.

ODE says over the next 7 years the demand for nurses is only expected to grow.

“The growth rates will be at 12, 13 percent or more depending on the field,” Oussenbeck says.

That’s more than all the other industries in southern Oregon, or for working nurses looking for new opportunities. So it’s good news for people considering a career, or for working nurses looking for new opportunities.

“We have a competitive wage package, we have competitive benefits in terms of their health plan,” Levison says, “and we are looking to hire nurses at all levels. They’re available in a variety of shifts, and a variety of those specialty areas.”

Both Rogue Community College and Southern Oregon University offer nursing programs. The nursing program at SOU is offered by Oregon Health & Science University’s School of Nursing.

According to the local employment office, depending on level of education and certification, nursing jobs can earn between $15 and more than $50-dollars an hour in the valley.

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