VENTURA COUNTY: Hospitals Lure Nurses To Combat Shortage
Hospitals in Ventura County are resorting to a variety of methods to entice highly skilled nurses to "overcome an industrywide shortage," the Los Angeles Times reports. Hospitals are promising to "pay for nurses' continuing education," offering "better pay and benefits" and providing flexible scheduling -- all in an attempt to make up for an exodus of nurses from hospitals caused by various trends such as retirement, managed care, home care and nursing schools turning out fewer highly trained graduates. The Times reports that "Southern California's 58 hospitals [have] 833 registered nursing vacancies, according to a recent study by an industry council. And more than 500 of those are in highly specialized areas, such as critical care, labor and delivery, and surgery." Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks is attempting to combat the dearth of nurses by developing its own in-house nurse training program for nursing students and recent college graduates. Community Hospital in Ventura "offers flexible shifts, tuition grants and nurse scholarships."
Managed Care Malaise
The Times reports that "there have been nursing shortages in California about every 10 years because of natural demographic ebbs and flows. But today's shortage of registered nurses -- especially those with special skills -- results from the forces of managed care medicine." Harsh HMO economics have decreased hospital payments, which have resulted in large-scale nurse layoffs and others fleeing the profession as it becomes increasingly stressful. Jill Furillo, spokesperson for the California Nurses Association, said, "The hospitals created this nursing shortage and now they're trying to figure out a way to solve it." She said many nurses are afraid that the current need for nurses won't be permanent. But Los Robles CEO Robert Shaw insists that the hospitals "want to come up with some long-term solutions. We want to fill the pipeline with quality people" (Kelley, 12/2). Click here for previous coverage of the nursing shortage.