Friday, November 18, 2016

Just try ringing for a nurse

Sophie Quinn, author of Help Wanted: Why Willing Workers Aren't Filling Open Jobs, writing at Stateline (Pew Charitable Trusts), takes on the nursing situation.

What's the most in-demand worker in Houston? A nurse.

A fourth to a third of all nurses are set to retire in coming years, even though many nurses are postponing their retirement. And even now, nurses with certain skills are great demand. Hiring a nurse in Houston can take 55 workdays.

Couldn't we just graduate more nurses? We are--but hospitals, nursing homes, home care agencies, doctor's offices--all have specific requirements. They may want, for example, experience as an operating room nurse and not be able to afford a nurse with that.

So many new nurses find that their degree is not a ticket to ride. Many employers are beefing up their internships and in-house training. New York City even has a program to help new nurses find work.

Most nurses are RNs--Registered Nurses. These are the nurses who hand out medicine, monitor vital signs, and help patients manage their situation when they go home. Licensed practical nurses provide more basic care, such as helping patients dress and changing beds.

But--as the tide of new nurses continues to rise, employers are raising the ante. For one thing, an associate's degree will be bottom rung--the Institute of Medicine recommends that by 2020, a bachelor's will be required.

Even now, in Houston, nurses with an associate's degree have trouble getting an interview at the big hospitals.

So, the next time you are in the hospital and need a nurse, you may need to take a Chill Pill.

I love nurses...they can make or break a hospital stay. But salaries will have to go up to fix this problem--and medical care is too expensive as it is.

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