NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Middle Tennessee has continued to see a nursing shortage throughout the pandemic.

As a result, area hospitals are getting creative to fill vacancies, and Nashville has new education options as well. 

Dr. Audria Denker, Executive Vice President of Nursing at Galen College of Nursing, explained that many nurses are being pulled away from local hospitals  

“I actually I heard… that one company was paying $1,400 a day for nurses to come and travel. And especially in rural markets, it’s extremely depleting the workforce that they have in health care,” Dr. Denker said.  

But when there’s a will, there’s a way. Cookeville Regional Medical Center is one of many hospitals not only recruiting locally, but also overseas.  

“Our goal is always to support staffing needs within the hospital. The opportunity to recruit internationally also helps us target recruit or recruit specific areas that may have higher demand needs. With the recruiting company we also are able to set specific criteria for candidates, so when a candidate’s spoken to we already know the skillset will be a match,” said Scott Lethi, Chief Nursing Officer at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. “Many of those countries have foreign-based academic medical centers. If you take a look, Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, Harvard, lots of academic medical centers over there, so nurses that are employed in that market that are being recruited they may come from Canada; they may come from Australia, or England, Philippines, pretty much any locale where people are working in that local job market.” 

A new partnership between Galen College of Nursing and HCA is also working to re-staff hospitals. Galen just opened a new nursing school in Nashville that offers rolling enrollments. They’re also looking to recruit new demographics to the field.  

“The average age of our students is 28 years old and they’ve had a career. A lot of them are parents, and we make it very streamlined for them to enter the profession and get out as quickly as possible. So a student could start with Galen let’s say in January of 2021 and graduate with their registered nurse degree in that same time, 2023. So we’re able to get them through very quickly,” Denker said.  

The need for healthcare workers has never been greater. 

“People are unfortunately more ill now than they were two years ago from what we’re seeing coming in our doors because there has been a hesitancy to seek care,” Lethi said.  

And that’s why local hospitals say they’re doing everything they can to build their workforce.  

“We have made an effort to staff and not have to make the hard decision to close beds, you know, we want to be available regionally and locally and utilize all the resources we have for the betterment of the outcomes of folks,” Lethi said.