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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knoxville and much of East Tennessee does not suffer from the nursing shortage affecting the rest of the state, the dean of nursing at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville said Tuesday.

Dr. Joan Creasia said East Tennessee has more nursing programs than other parts of the state to provide a plentiful supply of nurses for the region.

”We know there are specific shortage areas in Tennessee and the country as a whole, but there are also pockets where the supply is able to keep up with the demand,” Creasia said. ”East Tennessee, specifically the Knoxville area with six hospitals, seems to have enough nurses. We have not experienced the problems Memphis and Nashville have had.”

A Tennessee Hospital Association survey found 727 nursing vacancies in 60 hospitals across the state, with 482 in Memphis. The survey found Nashville, to a lesser degree, also needs more nurses. It reported no nursing shortage in Knox and nearby counties.

Creasia, who chairs the Tennessee Healthcare Consortium for Nursing, said UT-Knoxville graduates about 100 nurses annually, and has graduated about 2,500 entry-level nurses since the program began in 1972.

East Tennessee also benefits from nursing programs at Carson-Newman College, East Tennessee State University, Lincoln Memorial University, Roane State, Walters State and other schools, Creasia said. Many graduates stay here to practice, she said.

”It (more area nursing programs) is certainly making a difference in the Knoxville area in that we are not suffering from the same problems as Memphis and Nashville,” Creasia said.