OK, Renerian, here's my take. There is a nursing shortage. Has been for about 10 years, but no one but nurses noticed it until about one or two years ago. There are good nurses, like yourself, out there, trying to swing the best deal possible for themselves.
Unfortunately, look at the people who go into hospital (not nursing) management. (If there are hospital managers reading, I am not talking about anyone specific, but making generalizations.) The majority of people who majored in health care management in school were frustrated, wannabe MBA's who couldn't cut the mustard to get into the program. For whatever reason, they picked HCM as their alternative, seeing that the program was considerably easier, and the final result (pay) was not bad. But, in the back of their minds, MBA was always there.
To business managers, no one is more important than a decisive, innovative manager. Finding ways to increase productivity, while reducing the manhours needed for that productivity, is the lodestone of managers everywhere. Hospital managers know that. That's why they looked to increase nurse workloads, decrease nurse staffing, etc. What they didn't, and probably couldn't realize, was that health care was not like other businesses. Reduction of nurses may have initially saved money, but it also reduced the amount of time any given nurse could spend at the bedside. Patients became dissatisfied, as did physicians. Oops.
Now, having seen nurses get the, lets say less than clean end of the stick for a long time, people starting college are realizing there are degrees out there where they can earn more money, work less, and not deal with hospital managers. Nurses are realizing the same thing, and are leaving the profession in record numbers. So, the number of nurses is on the decline. Hence, the nursing shortage.
The hospital management folks, never ones to actually shoulder any responsibility for any decision they made, are pointing fingers in every direction (except of course, towards self) trying to assess blame. Some minor discussion has been held about trying to ease the problem, but remember who we are dealing with. These folks are still in the "save money" mindset. So, rather than deal with the reasons nurses are really leaving, they are offering bandaid fixes, that don't really do anything in the short term.
So, long way around the barn, but with all the meetings being held about what to do about the increasing nursing shortage, with all the finger pointing being done, with all the time spent thinking up incentive programs that aren't, who has time to actually interview and hire nurses? And remember, in the mind of the managers, they are the most important people in the system. As far as they are concerned, there could be no physicians, no nurses, but as long as we have hospital managers, hospitals will be able to somehow get through.