EUGENE, Ore. -- Most hospitals across the state are in crisis mode thanks to the pandemic. Now, new vaccine mandates aren't helping when it comes to staffing. The state said there are currently 15,000 health care job openings.
Cory Miner, dean of LCC's health professions school, said their students could fill these job openings once they graduate.
"The organizations themselves, the agencies, the hospitals, the various places are having to do whatever they have to do to maintain a workforce," Miner said. "The bigger issue is just needing to have a healthy pipeline of students who can enter that workforce."
LCC's registered nurse program takes three years to complete.
"We have a lot of spots that are available, and we are training a lot of students, but the need is still there," Miner said.
Miner told KEZI some students opted out of their programs once the vaccine mandate was put in place for health care workers. However, Miner said the majority of students are very excited to move forward and are eager to start filling up those job openings.
School officials said this year's LCC nursing class is the largest to ever go through the program.
"I think they are excited to get started," said Maggie Kurit, the nursing director at Lane Community College.
She said there's been no change in attitude in this year's students compared to years prior.
"They just want to get through school, pass their classes and become a nurse," Kurit said.
That's exactly what nursing student Chelsea Santos told KEZI as she's preparing to head into the hospitals after she graduates in 2023.
"You just have to roll with it, and you have to do your best to protect yourself and everybody else," Santos said.
She encouraged her fellow peers to "keep on truckin."
Nursing program officials said they're predicting 90 students will graduate in June 2023.
According to the labor department, the median pay for RNs in the US is about $75,000 a year. However, the pandemic has upped those incomes in some areas.