Health Policy Expert Recommends Hospitals Give RNs More Influence
The nursing shortage at California hospitals could be "alleviated in part by giving nurses more influence in patient care," according to Edward O'Neil, co-director of the San Francisco-based Center for the Health Professions, the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports. As hospitals are "curtail[ing] services and compet[ing] for workers," O'Neil said higher salaries "will not be enough" to retain and recruit nurses, adding that hospitals must change the "practice model" so nurses have a greater say in patient care. O'Neil said that part of the problem has been a shift in the perception of nursing as an occupation, rather than a profession. O'Neil said, "We now think of [nurses] as hourly workers rather than broad problem solvers." To increase the number of nurses in the workforce, O'Neil offered a number of proposals including using more experienced nurses as "mentors," creating more work-school programs, putting nurses on hospital boards and having the chief nursing officer of a facility on the "same management level" as a chief administrative or financial officer. Pointing to a California Nursing Work Force report that estimates that the state's nursing shortfall will reach 43,000 by 2010, O'Neil said that there are not enough nurses in state education programs to cover that gap. He added, "Even if you open the immigration gates or increase wages, [nurses] will not rush right in. Nursing has become less attractive, and California a less affordable place to live and those are two very difficult burdens to overcome" (Rose, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 5/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.