CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There is a nursing shortage in some areas of the state and country, but it's unclear if or how problems at West Virginia's nursing schools will affect that shortage, the head of the state's nursing board said.
Two of West Virginia's nursing schools -- Mountain State University and Salem International University -- have lost accreditation in recent months.
The board recently reinstated provisional approval for Salem's school and is permitting students currently enrolled in the program to continue. Mountain State University lost accreditation and the entire university closed.
"Is there a nursing shortage? Yes, in some places," said Laura Rhodes, executive director of the Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses. "The board's responsibility is for public protection. It's not about numbers. It's about nurses who are competent and capable to take care of us."
A poor economy in recent years changed the nation's nursing shortage, Rhodes said. Some nurses who were planning to retire haven't because of the economy, she said.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the United States' nursing shortage will intensify as Baby Boomers get older and the need for health care grows. Enrollment in nursing schools isn't growing fast enough to meet the projected demand for registered nurses, according to the AACN.
There also is a shortage in nursing school faculty, which contributes to poor enrollment numbers at nursing schools.
Rhodes said she didn't know if there are nursing shortages in the areas where Mountain State University formerly served and where Salem serves.
"Even if not, there will be people who retire," she said, "so you always have to have new people in an area to keep it going."
In June, the board pulled accreditation from Salem International, saying school officials hadn't corrected earlier problems it made note of in February.
Among those concerns were failures to provide clinical learning opportunities, to determine student enrollment by the number of faculty and that the administrator did not devote 80 percent of work time to the program's administration.