Few Regions Are Immune to the Need for Nurses

By Staff Report

Mar. 9, 2005

Nurses unhappy with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s policies concerning nurse-to-patient ratios and his interest in moving state retirement plans to a defined-contribution system protested this week during his visit to New York.

The California Nurses Association, the National Nurses Organizing Committee and the American Association of Registered Nurses vow to follow Schwarzenegger around with picket signs.

Schwarzenegger is only one of many government officials grappling with human resources issues as they affect the nursing field.

In Scotland, the Royal College of Nursing is lobbying for a new law that would reduce patient-to-staff ratios in that country. Employees in Scotland say patients are at risk and employee morale is sliding because of a lack of nurses, according to Europe Intelligence Wire.

Caribbean companies have their own problems. The Caribbean Media Corp. reported this month that nurses in St. Lucia and other countries are taking jobs in the United States and Europe. Frustrated with their pay and working conditions at home, the nurses’ exodus could eventually cause a health care crisis in the Caribbean.

Best practices
Despite hospitals’ challenges, there are success stories. In South Carolina, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System reduced turnover from 24 percent to 4 percent through a combination of incentives, better training and education assistance and more nurse-friendly workplaces, according to the local Herald-Journal. The Herald-Journal reports that the most effective program in the hospital is an online auction that allows nurses to bid on shifts that are going understaffed.

In Nebraska, Saint Francis Medical Center has reduced turnover by implementing a job-shadowing program, recruiting more from other fields and by simply listening better to employees’ needs and suggestions.

Frank Heasley, president and CEO of MedZilla, a job board focused mainly on the health care industry, tells Workforce Management that many of the nurses looking for work are hoping to do “anything but nursing.”

Many, he says, are looking for jobs at pharmaceutical companies, either working in labs or otherwise involved in drug trials, or working as salespeople. Drug company postings, in fact, are splashed all over Medzilla’s home page, including ones from Wyeth, Schering-Plough, Lilly, Amgen and Pfizer.

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