State grapples with severe nursing shortage

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Demand is outstripping supply of nurses in Maryland, a report from the Maryland Hospital Association said.

The vacancy rate for nursing positions in the state rose to 13% last year from 10.3% in 2005. Meanwhile, the number of nursing school graduates rose significantly between 2001 and 2005. Hospitals in the state would have to hire an additional 2,340 nurses to meet current demand, the report said. A dire shortage of nurses in coming years is also expected as older nurses retire.

Despite the need, nursing schools last year had to turn away almost half of qualified applicants, according to the report.