NURSING SHORTAGE: California Hospitals Struggle To Fill Spots
Hospitals are scrambling to "fill dozens of openings across Orange County" for qualified nurses, the Los Angeles Times reports. In an attempt to counter a statewide nursing shortage -- particularly for neonatal, coronary and intensive care unit nurses -- hospitals are offering signing bonuses of up to $3,000, "tuition rebates, flexible hours, more lucrative benefits and bonuses, and in-house training." University of California-Irvine Medical Center is even attempting to recruit nurses from Canada. "The hospitals are experiencing some difficulty in recruiting nurses, especially in specialized areas," according to Jon Gilwee, president of the Healthcare Association of Southern California. The Times reports that the shortage can be "traced back at least in part to cost-cutting measures that replaced nurses with less-skilled workers," and to some nurses becoming disgruntled with managed care limitations they say eroded their ability to provide patient care. In addition, over 35% of nurses in California are over age 50 and many younger women are being drawn to "better-paying professions," leaving some to fear more severe shortages in the future. Markie Cowley, vice president of nursing services at Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center, said, "We are trying to identify how to address supply and demand issues in nursing, especially when you don't have the number of people entering the professional as are leaving" (Warren, 12/8).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.