Day after day, patients stream into Coliseum Medical Centers looking for help.

But at least one group says those who give it to them could be facing a shortage.

"The American Nurses Association says that by the year 2022 there are [sic] a need for 1.1 million new nurses in the United States," said Penny Ward, a nurse administrator and registered nurse at Coliseum Medical Centers.

The American Nurses Association, a national advocacy group, says that figure comes from projected new job openings and more than 500,000 expected retirements in the next four years.

The numbers have local hospital leaders like Ward concerned.

"Just like the rest of the nation, as well as the other hospitals in the area...all of us are feeling the crunch," said Ward. "We have to be very creative to make sure that we have the nurses to take care of our patients."

She says patient care has not been affected at Coliseum so far. But according to Ward she's constantly working to hire nurses in all sorts of specialties, including the "telemetry unit, (obstetrics), labor and delivery (and the) emergency department."

She says Coliseum provides a residency training program for nursing students at several central Georgia colleges. The goal? To attract the soon-to-be grads into the Coliseum Health System.

And after almost twenty-five years in the field, she's hoping a new generation signs up for a role she says is worth all the challenges.

"That patient's family who comes to you and says 'thank you so much, you have no idea how much that meant to us'...it makes all the difference in the world," said Ward.

And that difference could save lives.