AIKEN - Trudy Groves, the head of the nursing school at USC Aiken, says the state has the facility infrastructure to handle its part of the national nursing shortage.
She says what's needed are incentives for young people to consider the nursing profession.
"I think personally the teacher shortage is getting a higher profile," Dr. Groves said. "Now not to take away from that, because teaching is important, but the nursing shortage is equally important in the state."
Dr. Groves is not alone in her assessment. A six-year study released Tuesday in Columbia by the Colleagues in Caring Project, paid for with public and private funds, urged state legislators to consider more programs to attract students to nursing.
The report said a particular need exists in recruiting men and minorities.
The study - probably the most elaborate to date concerning South Carolina's nursing needs - found that the state ranks 42nd out of 50 in the number of registered nurses per 100,000 population.
The current South Carolina shortage equates to about 5,000 nurses.
During the next decade, as many as 15,000 nurses could retire in South Carolina.
The state's 65-and-older population is expected to increase 72 percent in the next 18 years - and those people will need health care.
"Inadequate numbers of nurses translate into delays in getting treatment, shifting of care to family members, and increased costs for health care services," according to the report.
Dr. Groves said it particularly troubles her that 50 percent of the state's newly licensed nurses are coming from out of state.
She said most faculty members in the state are older than 50, a factor she says is gradually contributing to the nursing school enrollment problem.
"We're all going to be retiring," Dr. Groves pointed out.
Among the report's suggestions for dealing with the shortage were:
Associated Press reports were used in this article.
Reach Eric Williamson at (803) 648-1395 or firstname.lastname@example.org.