Nurses searching for cures for rising health care concerns

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

BILOXI, MS   (WLOX) - More than 1,100 registered nurses and nursing students are attending the 98th Annual Mississippi Nurses Association Convention in Biloxi. The nurses are networking and sharing ideas to help deal with ongoing problems, along with new ones that erupted this year.

"Doc, I feel like I could die," said the pretend patient.

The computerized mannequin can cough, breathe and complain of ailments just like a real patient. The demonstration is among the 100 exhibits that give nurses a peak at the latest tools and topics in the healthcare industry.

"This gives them an opportunity to get up-to-date continuing education," said Dr. Ricki Garrett, Executive Director of the Mississippi Nurses Association. "It also provides them the opportunity to hear national speakers on health care and also gives them a chance to visit exhibitors and to network with each other."

About 475 nurses and 700 student nurses from across the state are learning and sharing ideas at the 98th Annual Mississippi Nurses Association Convention in Biloxi. Their concerns range from how health care reform could affect nurse practitioners to finding a cure for the nursing shortage.

"We're concerned about where we're going to find faculty to teach nurses. There are some major health care issues in our state such as obesity, diabetes, heart problems that need to be addressed," said Garrett. "We've got a shortage of school nurses. We're working hard to make sure they are being paid at a level that attracts them into the profession."

Jalena Taylor is a nurse for the Biloxi School District. Topping her list of priorities is coming up with a plan to vaccinate thousands of students against the Swine Flu.

"It all depends on when the vaccinations arrive in Mississippi," said Taylor. "So, as soon as it does, we're prepared and ready to vaccinate our students and staff."

Whether it's educating the public or taking care of their medical needs, the nurses are better prepared to bring healing to those who are hurting.

"They're the primary health care providers in our country, and so it's very important that we make sure they have what they need," said Garrett.

Some of the topics covered this week include communicating with compassion, working in shelters during a disaster, and the legal aspects of nursing. The convention ends on Friday.

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