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Nurses volunteer at NHRMC

READ MORE: Nurses volunteer at NHRMC
WILMINGTON -- The demand for nurses is a growing problem across the country. New Hanover Regional Medical Center has one way of bucking the trend. The hospital has a volunteer nurse program. It's the only one of it's kind in the state. Over the past two years, volunteer nurses have given more than three thousand hours of their time. For more than a year Ellie Lariviere has donated her time and her skill to New Hanover Regional Medical Center. Lariviere, a registered nurse for nearly 50 years, is part of the hospital's volunteer nurse program. She said, "I was very blessed. I had a good career for many years and I just thought, it's time to give things back." And there are 16 other volunteers just like her. In order to qualify for the program -- started in 2005 -- a candidate must be registered nurse or a licensed nurse practitioner in North Carolina. These nurses don't get paid, but their value to the hospital is immeasurable. One patient said, "It was really nice having her face in here when I first came in. It was unbelievable how I was feeling and how I'm feeling now. I get to go home." According to the NC Board of Nursing, employment statistics for the state are good, more than 77 percent of licensed registered nurses are employed. But the outlook for the profession may not be so healthy. The American Nurse Association says the average nurse's age is 47. Presenting the possibility that the number of nurses leaving the profession will outpace those going in to it If the current trends continue, the nation's nurse work force will be 36 percent, more than one million nurses below demand -- all the more reason why volunteers, like Lariviere are needed. Volunteer nurses can do just as much as a nurse paid by the hospitals. They're usually scheduled for four-hour shifts, but organizers of the program say many times they chose to work six-hour shifts.

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