The health care professional field currently has about 25% of the job openings listed in Stutsman County and the surrounding region, according to information from Job Service North Dakota.

As of the end of August, there were 119 openings in the health care field in Stutsman County. Of those jobs, 26 were in health care support while 104 were listed as health care practitioners or technical. The total number of openings listed in Stutsman County at the end of August was 472.

That number is up from 81 total openings in the field at the end of August 2020.

It is the single-largest category of job openings with more than twice the "office and administrative" category that ranks second.

In Region 6, made up of Wells, Foster, Griggs, Stutsman, Barnes, Logan, LaMoure, McIntosh and Dickey counties, the number of health care job openings is also high with 226 openings for practitioners and technical positions and 95 for health care support.

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Manufacturing production workers rank second in the region with about 150 job openings in the nine-county area.

The North Dakota State Hospital Governing Board was informed at its meeting Monday it is "constantly recruiting." At the meeting, it was reported the State Hospital currently has 14 full-time registered nurses and 15 job vacancies.

There are also three traveling nurses working at the State Hospital.

Travel nurses are registered nurses who work in short-term roles at hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities around the world, according to the website,.

Traveling nurses are used by at least some health care facilities in the Jamestown area. Mike Delfs, president and CEO of Jamestown Regional Medical Center, said that the facility commonly has between one and three traveling nurses working at any time.

"When you compare the total cost of compensation (hourly wage + benefits), a traveling nurse costs the organization about twice as much as one who works directly for JRMC," he said, in an email response to questions.

Delfs said the number of nurse openings at JRMC has not grown this year.

"We have eight registered nurse positions open right now, which is pretty consistent with what we’ve had in other years at this time," he said. "One of those positions is new – that’s because we’re growing."

The James Valley Career and Technology Center is running a program to provide some homegrown health care professionals for Jamestown area hospitals and clinics, according to Darby Heinert, assistant director of the James Valley Career and Technology Center.

"If they want to be in health care, we can get them there quicker," he said, referring to current high school students.

The school offers a "fast track" program where high school students can take a number of classes where the credits apply to both their high school graduation and as college credits. Taking advantage of this program allows a person to become a registered nurse with two years of college rather than the normal three or four years.

"By the time they are 20, they are earning money, not spending it," Heinert said.

The fast track also reduces the time necessary for many health care professions including physical and occupational therapy, chiropractor and dentistry, Heinert said.

Heinert said the program is in its second year and has about 25 students enrolled.

"We are trying to keep those kids here," he said. "The local hospitals and clinics need these workers."