The shortage of nurses throughout the country is almost in crisis mode. As more and more baby boomers retire the need for quality healthcare increases. To address this influx hospitals are looking to expand and add additional services however, are faced with a sparse nursing staff that seems to be dwindling. Finding enough nurses to treat an aging baby boomer generation is increasingly difficult because more and more nurses are also falling into that category.
The projected amount of time, nationwide, that a nursing position will be vacant is up to 149 days, and the national turnover rate is 22 percent. The apparent cause of the shortage can be attributed to a decreased number of students graduating from nursing schools. The nurse educator shortage is creating a problematic trickling effect that is plaguing the entire healthcare system and is resulting in diminished care for patients. In addition, experienced nurses are increasingly being drawn to other professions or are taking early retirement.
In Joplin, Missouri the problem is very real. Jamie Hirshey, retention and turnover coordinator for Freeman Health System said that at any given time, the hospital has 25 to 30 open nursing positions. “We have more than 800 on our nursing staff,” Hirshey said. “We’re very fortunate to have so many wonderful nursing programs in our area, but there are still never enough nurses. As this area continues to grow and we’re seeing the hospitals grow, we’re also seeing secondary agencies coming up,”Hirshey said. “Long-term care facilities and in-home health care agencies keep coming up and are just another competitor for us (for nursing staff).