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Oklahoma has more nurses than ever before

There are more licensed nurses in Oklahoma right now than there has been at any point in the state’s history. A recent open records request made by The Oklahoman to the Oklahoma Board of Nursing reveals there are 74,656 licensees in the state, an increase of more than 22,000 in the past decade.
by Andrew Knittle Published: July 6, 2014
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There are more licensed nurses in Oklahoma right now than there has been at any point in the state’s history.

A recent open records request made by The Oklahoman to the Oklahoma Board of Nursing reveals there are 74,656 licensees in the state, an increase of more than 22,000 in the past decade.

Kim Glazier, executive director of the Oklahoma Board of Nursing, said she traces the rise in the nurse population back to a panic, of sorts, that started “around 2004 or 2005.”

“There was a lot of literature out there about the shortage of nurses at the time,” Glazier said during a recent interview with The Oklahoman.

“Now, I’ve been a nurse long enough to know that a lot of the shortages are cyclic. But this time, when they looked at it, it was going to be at a critical level.”

Shortage prompts growth

Glazier said the shortage identified a decade ago grew to a mini panic because of the large number of Baby Boomers who might have been affected had such a shortage persisted.”

“There was not going to be enough health care professionals to care for these Baby Boomers,” Glazier said. “The highest area where there was going to be a shortage was nursing.”

But it wasn’t simply the Baby Boomers who caused the huge increase in nurses over the past decade. The other big jump came in late 2008, when the worldwide economy contracted, sending the United States and the rest of the world into a deep recession.

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by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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When the economy turns down, a lot of nurses who had stayed home for whatever reason usually enter back into the profession during that period of time. This number (74,656 registered nurses), I anticipate, will start to go down now that the economy has leveled off.”

Kim Glazier,
Executive director of the Oklahoma Board of Nursing

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