DENVER (KDVR) – Colorado is facing a serious nursing shortage. According to a study by Mercer, the state will face a deficit of more than 10,000 registered nurses by 2026.

So, hospital systems like HealthONE are trying to find new ways to feed the workforce pipeline.

According to Vice President for Clinical Education Carolyn Vitale, the nursing shortage is not new. It is, however, intensifying. She is now trying to open up more opportunities for nursing students.

“The schools and the students are all kind of vying for the same hospital spots, so to speak, for training,” Vitale said.

HealthONE works with nursing schools, and in the last year has opened up more clinical rotation spots.

“We opened up clinical spots and are hosting a thousand more nursing students than we did in prior years,” Vitale said.

These kinds of opportunities gave Gabe Wohl, a nursing graduate, hands-on experience at Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver.

“I think it makes all the difference in the world,” Wohl said. “The insights that I was able to gain that way were completely invaluable.”

Monserrat Pineda-Lagunas is a nursing student who is grateful for her experience as well.

“It’s been great for me. I know I’m lucky compared to other students who haven’t even been able to touch a patient,” she said.

“One thing the nursing shortage has exposed is that there’s a lot of opportunity, and that’s something that I think a lot of people should jump towards,” Wohl said.

Pineda-Lagunas and Wohl are both very aware of the nursing shortage, but they are great representatives of the group that aims to minimize this projected staffing crisis’s impact.