I see the negatives for nursing as well ... but I also see the other side.
MGH did not "hire nurses" with this program -- they provided an educational program. The participants were not expected to work a regular schedule, take a "real" assignment, bear the full responsibilities of an RN, etc. It was/is primarily an educational program with no guarantee of a job afterwards. Instead of charging for the educational program, they paid a small stipend and provided full benefits (e.g. health insurance) to those who participated. It's a totally different model -- very similar to the model used by the discipline of medicine in which graduates do residencies before they become attending physicians.
Hospitals are tired of paying for the additional education that many new grads want/need. Hospitals want to hire people capable of doing the job -- not hire students who need another 6 months of schooling before they can do the job to earn their pay. Making it worse, many new grads have the attidute of, "I do my 1 year of this first job, learn to be a competent nurse, then move on to what I really want to do." That's just too expensive for hospitals to provide anymore -- at least without a major committment on the part of the new grad to stay there for a substantial length of time.
So ... hospitals are looking for ways to minimize the costs of those special new grad education programs. Either they will continue to m inimize their hiring of new grads ... they will require contracts (with pay-back requirements if the new grad doesn't stay) ... or they will start paying these new grad orientees less until they get up to speed. We'll see lots of variations on the same theme in the upcoming years.
MGH and others are starting to label these programs as "educational programs" and "charging" for the education. And with the current economy and job market, I can't totally blame them. Why should they provide free education to a generation of new grads who haven't been sufficiently prepared by their school? Making up for inadequate schooling is not the hospital's job.
Hopefully, in time ... the nursing profession will find a good "happy medium" -- one that elevates the standards of its educational programs so that students graduate better prepared for the real world of nursing (as some, but not all, already do) .... and the employer can support the new grad with a program that is within reason.
Last edit by llg on Oct 30, '11
Excellent post, llg. This is not an exploitation of staff nurses because of the economy. It's the offering of an internship with a stipend. In the business world, many internships pay nothing at all, and a few require the intern to pay for the opportunity.
I'm sure the tight economy factors in; hospitals and other businesses can no longer afford to spend $50,000- to $100,000 to train the newbies, only to have them jump ship just as they're becoming useful and beginning to earn their keep. But it's also a reflection of the fact that there is an interim period where a new grad has head knowledge but lacks the experience to operate without a lot of supervision.
The MGH interns will continue to have classes. They won't have all of the obligations the regular floor nurses have. And they'll be allowed to grow into full responsibility without the "sink or swim" situation that costs too many new grads their first job or have them toughing it out with so much stress that they cry themselves to sleep and take antacids to get through a shift.
The level of support MGH is providing isn't free. And no one is being forced to take the opportunity. But those who can make it through the six months will find themselves in a better position than their peers who either still haven't found employment or who found jobs that, for one reason or another, are not working well for them.
If I were unemployed several months after graduation and I could in any fashion swing it financially, I would jump at the chance to get an internship like this one.
Bunking with 3 other nurse interns in a crappy apartment for six months--irritating. Getting by on ramen noodles and dollar store shampoo--annoying. ICU training at a hospital of the caliber of MGH? Priceless.
Last edit by rn/writer on Oct 30, '11