LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Las Vegas continues to feel the pinch. There are not enough nurses here to take care of our growing population.
That’s on trend with a nationwide nurse shortage.
Southwest Medical and Touro University have been partnering for years. Recently they have been targeting the need for more nurses, especially nurse practitioners, who can often step in for doctors.
“We have a huge problem and a deficit here in the valley,” Dr. Neil Gokal.
Local schools and health care systems said there’s no denying the problem.
“When we say low and when we say it’s a shortage, it's pretty severe,” Touro University said. “And we do recognize that.”
“We’re pretty much on the front lines of health care, so it impacts every patient,” Patricia Strobehn said. “It impacts rehab facilities, hospitals, clinics, everything.”
Strobehn is the Family Nurse Practioner program coordinator at Touro University.
“It might be hard to catch up right now,” Strobehn said. “But we're just doing the best we can while we try to accommodate all the people moving into Las Vegas.”
The problem isn’t that people don’t want to become nurses, rather: “I think it's pretty attractive to the new up and coming generations, but it’s really hard to have spots,” she said.
Schools like Touro University are trying to give nursing students a head start. They learn in classrooms then can train in the field, alongside nurse practitioners and doctors.
“And they're able to work on diagnostic skills, work on procedures, learn how to diagnose patients, treat those patients,” Strobehn said.
Dr. Gokal is one of the doctors with Southwest Medical who helps soon-to-be nurses.
“They see the same patients, they use our tools, they use our electronic records as well as our data,” he said.
Dr. Gokal said college programs like this give students the chance to learn hands-on and also motivates them to stay in Las Vegas.
“It’s a start,” Dr. Gokal said. “It's growing. We have our universities that are creating programs for nurse practioners and physician assistants.”
After years of facing a shortage, he’s hopeful training and programs like this will pay off so that critical jobs won’t be open for long.
“I hope it's soon. I hope it's sooner than soon,” Dr. Gokal said.
Touro University has around 60 nursing students graduate each year.
While there’s not enough nurses here, Nevada ranks in the Top 5 in the country when it comes to paying nurses.