Nurse Recruitment Efforts Intensify as State Faces Shortage
California hospitals are in a "hiring frenzy" as they try to comply with new nurse staffing laws that require one nurse per five patients in most wards, the Los Angeles Times reports. Nurse recruitment efforts have become "so intense" that they include methods such as cold-calling nurses at rival hospitals, offering gift certificates for visiting the hospital and in one case, renting a mansion to host a reality television show about nurses, according to the Times.
The reality show, which is designed to "tantalize nurses around the country with the joys of nursing in Southern California," highlights the lives of several "traveler" nurses who work at different hospitals in the region over 13 weeks, the Times reports (Girion, Los Angeles Times, 11/23). The program will air on the Internet beginning on Wednesday and could appear on cable television next year, the Orange County Register reports (Hardesty, Orange County Register, 11/23).
The prevalence of such "travelers" is "one indication of the degree to which the nursing shortage has put power in the hands of employees," according to the Times. Travelers can earn up to $60 an hour and are provided with housing, meals, benefits and often signing or completion bonuses. Nurse wages in the state, which have increased by 23% since 1998, average more than $33 per hour.
Jan Emerson, a spokesperson for the California Hospital Association, said traveler nurses are a costly quick fix that is "not sustainable over the long term," but "because we can't find the nurses to hire, we have no other option." Extra labor costs also are increasing pressure on financially strained hospitals.
In other nursing news, the University of California Board of Regents voted to approve $5.2 million in funding to restore a bachelor's degree program for nursing and a new entry-level master's degree in nursing program at the University of California-Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
The university will hire 22 new faculty members and five new staff members over three years. Admissions to the programs will begin in fall 2006 (Los Angeles Daily News, 11/22).