Medford, Oregon: There’s a big need for nurses in the valley. According to the Oregon Employment Department, the health care industry is not only the largest industry in the area, but it’s the fastest growing. And experts say it shows no signs of slowing down.

According to Kate Kitchell, the nurse manager for the medical-surgical unit at Providence Hospital:

“We’re growing as a hospital, we’re growing as a community, we’re always in need of good nurses,” Kitchell says.

Despite the fact that hospital currently employs 300 nurses, Julie Levinson (Human resources director) says that they still have 43 openings for nurses at the present moment.

The fact that the healthcare industry is the only Industry growing amidst even the worst of recessions means that there has always been and will always be a shortage of qualified nurses. According to Anoura Oussenbeck, a workforce analyst:

“We are not graduating nurses fast enough,” Oussenbeck says, “there is more and more demand there.”

Providence’s HR director says the hospital will hire temporary nurses to come and help fill nursing positions when there are vacancies. It currently has traveling nurses working now.

ODE says over the next 7 years the demand for nurses is only expected to grow.

“The growth rates will be at 12, 13 percent or more depending on the field,” Oussenbeck says.

That’s more than all the other industries in southern Oregon, or for working nurses looking for new opportunities. So it’s good news for people considering a career, or for working nurses looking for new opportunities.

“We have a competitive wage package, we have competitive benefits in terms of their health plan,” Levison says, “and we are looking to hire nurses at all levels. They’re available in a variety of shifts, and a variety of those specialty areas.”

Both Rogue Community College and Southern Oregon University offer nursing programs. The local employment office says depending on level of education and certification, nursing jobs can earn between 15 and more than $50-dollars an hour in the valley.

Watch the KOBI5NEWS clip below for more information.

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