The financial impact of the nationwide nursing shortage: Hospitals pay billions to recruit and retain nurses

http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/finance/financial-impact-nationwide-nursing-shortage-hospitals-pay-billions-to-recruit-and-retain

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A new Reuters analysis finds that collectively, hospitals have been paying billions to recruit and retain nurses—offering higher salaries, signing bonuses and even repaying student loans—to address the nationwide nurse shortage.

The problem is only going to get worse. With many Baby Boomer nurses set to retire, and an aging population that will need healthcare services, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that there will be more than a million openings for registered nurses by 2024.

Although the industry has faced shortages before, the current shortfall is more difficult to address, according to the Reuters report.

“I’ve been a nurse 40 years, and the shortage is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” Ron Moore, who recently retired as vice president and chief nursing officer for West Virginia’s Charleston Area Medical Center, told the news service. To help attract nurses—and get them to stay—the organization will reimburse their tuition if they agree to work at the hospital for two years.

While some hospitals try to meet staffing needs by employing foreign nurses, the current political climate has caused delays in issuing visas. Healthcare advocates are pushing Congress to pass proposed legislation to open the door for 8,000 international nurses to get the necessary visas to help alleviate the nursing shortage.

In the meantime, Reuters notes that some hospitals have turned to travel nurses to fill the gaps. Staffing Industry Analysts told Reuters that so far healthcare organizations have paid $4.8 billion for travel nurses in 2017.

But the costs are hitting rural hospitals hard. Reuters reports that J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morganstown, West Virginia, has paid more than $10 million this year to hire and retain nurses. That money is used in part to give $10,000 signing bonuses and free housing for nurses who live more than 60 miles away from the hospital.

And that’s just the beginning. To entice longtime nurses to continue to stay in West Virginia and work at the hospital, next year J.W. Ruby Memorial may begin to pay college tuition for their family members.

Healthcare experts say other hospitals may want to follow J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital’s lead and prepare in advance for potential shortages.  Among their suggestions: develop a succession plan now, and see if experienced nurses will consider delaying retirement if they can take on new roles in patient navigation or education or decrease their hours.

 

 

California Nurses: Taking the Pulse

http://www.chcf.org/publications/2017/08/california-nurses

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In 2015, 330,000 registered nurses made up the largest health profession in California. This overview of the nursing workforce looks at supply, demographics, education, distribution, and pay.

California is home to more than 330,000 actively licensed registered nurses (RNs), making nursing the single largest health profession in the state.

Key findings include:

  • The nursing workforce has grown more diverse. Non-white RNs accounted for almost half (48%) of employed nurses in 2015. However, compared to the state’s population, Latinos were significantly underrepresented in the RN workforce, while Filipinos and whites were significantly overrepresented.
  • The pre-licensure programs for RNs produced 11,119 graduates in 2015, slightly down from a high of 11,512 in 2010.
  • California’s RN workforce relies on foreign-educated nurses. In 2015, about one in five employed RNs were trained outside the US.
  • 64% of employed RNs worked in a hospital in 2014. Another 15% were in ambulatory care.
  • Nurses’ average income was $100,000 in 2015.
  • In 2015, more than two-thirds (71%) of LVN graduates came from for-profit schools.

Quick reference guides, as well as a full report from 2010, are available under Document Downloads.