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Dean: Need for Nebraska nurses expected to grow

Associated Press Modified: November 8, 2012 at 8:01 pm •  Published: November 8, 2012

Nebraska has dealt with a shortage of primary health physicians and registered nurses for years. A 2009 study by the university's Center for Rural Health Research predicted that aging doctors, people living longer with chronic health conditions and more demand for health care will compound a shortage in Nebraska that is most severe in rural areas. It also found that nearly half of the doctors in Nebraska were expected to reach retirement age within the next decade.

Nebraska has about 65 active primary care physicians for every 100,000 residents, according to a study by Jim Stimpson, an associate professor in the university's College of Public Health. The report shows that the number has held fairly steady since 2007.

The University of Nebraska has embarked on a series of building projects to train more medical workers, including nurses. Nebraska is expected to have a shortage of 3,800 registered nurses by 2020, with rural areas hit the hardest, according to university estimates.

Among the projects is a $15 million building addition at the University of Nebraska at Kearney for nursing, and a proposed $17 million education and research facility in Lincoln. University administrators asked lawmakers for state aid in February, but the Lincoln nursing facility was not included in the final package approved.