Savvy Hospitals Heading off Predicted Nursing Shortage

A disaster is looming.

Healthcare companies have long been able to read the writing on the wall. The perfect storm of the mass retirement of the Baby Boomer nurses, plus their own increasing need for medical care as they age, has nervous hospitals making plans. Because the pinch is already being felt.

The St. Augustine Record recently reported on efforts that local hospitals are making to train, solicit, and retain a new generation of nurses.

Florida Hospital’s Flagler campus has been “making adjustments aimed at retaining experienced and knowledgeable nurses approaching retirement age, to include adjustments to the overall work environment and possible changes to the typical 12-hour shift structure.”

They also want to recruit and retain new nurses by making sure they work at what is called “top of license.” “While emptying trash cans and making beds are certainly tasks that a nurse might be expected to do, they are also things that can be delegated to others in the workforce. And because so many nurses are expected to retire in the coming years…they also need to make sure that their experience and knowledge is replaced.”

The imminent brain drain is being addressed in a couple of ways. Current nurses are being encouraged to pursue additional continuing education to keep them at the top of their game, and their employers are happily paying for it.

More experienced nurses are also being encouraged to consider teaching. It is always a danger of course that an expert nurse will leave practicing entirely to focus on teaching, but it is a calculated risk.

As part of this effort, some Florida hospitals are hiring nurses with Associates degrees and then paying for their continued education to bump them up to BSNs.

And some hospitals are seeking designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a “magnet” facility.

“That designation…is something that new nurses look for because it recognizes a work environment that is very supportive of nursing.” This means “things like shared governance where the nursing staff works together in helping set policies and procedures and to handle…self-scheduling where the staff works out their schedules according to needs instead of having a more top-down approach with a supervisor simply dictating a schedule.”

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