Nurse shortage worsens in Georgia

  1. Nurse shortage worsens in state
    Gap increases 38% in 2 years
    Susan Laccetti Meyers - Staff
    Thursday, February 28, 2002

    http://www.accessatlanta.com/ajc/epa...a701a0041.html

    Georgia's shortage of nurses and other health care personnel has worsened, with metro Atlanta among the hard-hit areas of the state.

    The Georgia Hospital Association, which released the study Wednesday, cited the aging baby boom population as a reason for shortages in all health care fields.

    The shortage of all nurses --- registered, licensed professional and nursing assistants --- grew 38 percent from 1999 to 2001 in Georgia.

    In metro Atlanta, the shortage of registered nurses was 14.9 percent, or almost 1,200. The statewide vacancy rate was 13.3 percent, with the rate running as high as 19.3 percent in the east Georgia/Augusta area.

    "The work force shortage has become a major public health issue that threatens the quality of care that Georgia residents receive," said Joseph A. Parker, president of the Georgia Hospital Association. "A dwindling hospital work force opens the doors to so many other problems, including emergency room diversions, financial distress and declining morale."

    But the problem isn't only Georgia's. The U.S. Labor Department has estimated that another million nurses will be needed by 2010.

    "Applicants aren't coming in to St. Joseph's like they have in the past," said Susan Axelrod, a registered nurse who supervises that hospital's renal, pulmonary and urology surgical unit. "I would love it if we had maximum staff."

    At St. Joseph's, Axelrod says nurses work each day not knowing whether they'll be asked to work overtime.

    "I'm delighted when I look at the staffing and see only four holes for a week," said the nurse, who has spent 20 years in her career. "There are a lot of days I spend on the phone cajoling people to come in to work."

    At DeKalb Medical Center, Patricia Horton, who hires for the critical care and emergency units, blames the shortage of nurses on the increasing volume of patients.

    She said the vacancy rate among registered nurses ranges from 10 percent to 14 percent.

    "At times it is frustrating because nurses always want to provide the ultimate in care," she said. "A lot of times they can't do it because there isn't enough help. But we try not to overwork them so they leave the profession."

    But it's not just nurses. The hospital association's survey showed the vacancy rate among all allied health positions --- including hospital pharmacists, radiographic technologists and respiratory therapists --- has jumped more than 40 percent since 1999.

    "I see more utilization of nonregistered and nonlicensed personnel than I'm particularly comfortable with," said Michael Greene, a family practitioner in Macon.

    "Some of the things seem very simple, like taking blood pressures," he said. "But an error can make a huge difference in what you do with a patient."

    THE NURSING RANKS
    > Registered nurses can administer all types of medication. They have the most advanced degree.
    > Licensed professional nurses may give oral medications. They may administer medications intravenously if the hospital in which they work permits it.
    > Nursing assistants provide basic physical care, including taking blood pressure and temperature and bathing patients.
    Source: Staff research

    HEALTH CARE OPENINGS
    Among health care professionals, a vacancy is an unfilled position for which there is money:
    > Georgia hospitals have 2,757 vacant positions for registered nurses, up from 2,184 in 1999.
    > The greatest shortage of registered nurses is in pediatrics.
    > The greatest shortage of licensed practical nurses is in the eastern sector of the state, where the vacancy rate is 24 percent.
    > The shortage of nursing assistants has jumped 61 percent since 1999.
    > The vacancy rate for allied health positions, including hospital pharmacists and respiratory therapists, is 11.3 percent, up from 9 percent in 1999.
    Source: Georgia Hospital Association
    •  
  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   Mijourney
    Hi. Good information, Karen. I wonder why there is a greater shortage of RNs in pediatrics? Does it have to do with the fact that the pediatric patients that tend to use hospital services have seemingly the most intractable problems? I don't work in pediatrics, but I do know that some of my friends in that area talk about the type of pediatric patients they care for and it's not a pretty picture. One of my friends who worked in ER gave up that position because she got tired of the same ole patients coming in for the same ole health problems and not being taken to the doctor before they got really sick.

    Georgia, in some areas, offer alot of opportunities to do something else besides traditional bedside nursing. Since I happen to know that the 2000 census indicates that GA has seen a fair amount of growth in the ten years prior, I've got to assume that bedside nurses are going into other areas like law and legal nurse consulting since we have programs down this way for those areas.
  4. by   -jt
    <The Georgia Hospital Association, which released the study Wednesday, cited the aging baby boom population as a reason for shortages in all health care fields....... "Applicants aren't coming in to St. Joseph's like they have in the past," said Susan Axelrod, a registered nurse who supervises that hospital's renal, pulmonary and urology surgical unit. "I would love it if we had maximum staff." .......At St. Joseph's, Axelrod says nurses work each day not knowing whether they'll be asked to work overtime>

    Amazing.... and they dont ask WHY nurses arent coming to their hospitals? Not a word about the conditions they have to work under being a BIG reason why????? I wonder how many times the nurses are forced to work overtime at that hospital. I hope that newspaper gets an avalanche of mail from Georgia nurses setting the story straight.
  5. by   newjerseynurse
    If they are in such a need for nurses what why doesn't the hospital form a team of qualified memebers to go overseas to recruit. I know of 2 hospitals that are strating to do this.
    Another thing is if they are in such need which apparently does not look like it is going away; why don't they deal with independent contractors or contracting companes. I always thought no matter where you work in the hospital the main priority was the welfare of the patients. If the hospital is not meeting some of the demands and apparently it is dropping more and more each year than buck up and get some outside help from somewhere..
    "Patients Are Not Practice , They Are People"
  6. by   -jt
    <The Georgia Hospital Association, which released the study Wednesday, cited the aging baby boom population as a reason for shortages in all health care fields.......>

    Something theyd like the public to believe. Like: "hey its not OUR fault nurses are getting old" Of course they dont want to talk about the real reasons theres a shortage of nurses who are willing to take hospital jobs......like the WORKING CONDITIONS.
  7. by   -jt
    <If they are in such a need for nurses what why doesn't the hospital form a team of qualified memebers to go overseas to recruit.>

    they are but theres several reasons why they arent doing MORE of it..... number 1 - it doesnt solve the problem of WHY local nurses wont work at their hospitals, so nursing organizations are fighting to stop them from taking the band-aide approach of recruiting more from overseas, obligating those nurses to work in the same poor conditions we are refusing to work in, instead of just investing in fixing what needs to be fixed for good. Its been proven and documented that there is no shortage in numbers of US nurses right now. Its just a shortage of nurses who are willing to work the current hospital conditions.
    Last edit by -jt on Mar 5, '02
  8. by   P_RN
    Some of you might remember I requested you contact this writer for her article on the shortage. I am quite disappointed in it as she has mostly echoed the ivory tower line. She did speak with ONE hospice Nurse, One male Student Nurse, and One clinic Nurse.

    http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/2794664.htm

    Posted on Tue, Mar. 05, 2002

    Study recommends ways to ease nursing shortage
    S.C. already has a problem, and it's going to get worse, report says
    By LINDA H. LAMB
    Staff Writer

    South Carolina's health planners want to make sure that when patients press their bedside buzzers, there are nurses nearby to help.

    A six-year study, to be released today, suggests ways to handle the looming nursing shortage. They include a transfusion of state money for new incentives, talking up nursing careers to schoolchildren and recruiting more male and minority nurses.

    An aging population plus the pressures of high-tech health care mean S.C. must keep luring nurses from other states, as well as strengthen training programs here, the study report says.

    "Inadequate numbers of nurses translate into delays in getting treatment, shifting of care to family members, and increased costs for health care services, .'.'." according to a draft of the report obtained by The State.

    Health care is an increasingly competitive business, but this study drew the cooperation of virtually every major S.C. school, agency and medical facility concerned with the need for nurses. Called the Colleagues in Caring Project, it was housed in the USC School of Nursing and bankrolled by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with matching private and public funding.

    The state faces a 15,000-nurse shortage by 2015, said health economist Lynn Bailey, who helped gather research for the project. There's a shortage of 5,000 registered nurses in S.C. now, she said.

    She put the problem in personal terms for South Carolina, which anticipates a 72 percent growth in its 65-and-older population by 2020:

    "I'm 50 years old," she said. "This means there will be nobody to take care of me."

    An older population means more people will need medical care. It also means more nurses and nursing teachers will retire: Among about 33,731 registered nurses in the state, the average age is 46.

    Traditionally a female-dominated career, nursing is attracting fewer young women. Its starting salaries of about $40,000 are appealing, but long, pressure-packed shifts are not.

    In turn, there are fewer nursing instructors for university and tech-school staffs, and 35 percent of nursing school faculty members are 55 or older.

    The report says that between 1994 and 1999, 10,000 S.C. nurses left hospital jobs for jobs in other health care settings. That reflects a greater emphasis on outpatient treatment.

    It also means the average hospital is turning into one big intensive care unit, adding to pressures on nurses. "People who are there are really sick," Bailey said.

    Here and nationwide, nurses complain about being forced to work mandatory overtime in hospitals, which employ more than 60 percent of nurses in S.C.

    Judith Thompson, who heads the S.C. Nurses Association, said this leads to shortages in hospitals. "People can work in outpatient settings and know that by 3 in the afternoon, they're done."

    The report says South Carolina sees annual increases in both registered nurses and licensed practical nurses. Between 1988 and 1998, the net gains were about 1,100 RNs a year and about 100 LPNs - about 1,100 and 100, respectively.

    But there still are more jobs than nurses, and the state relies heavily on out-of-state recruitment. Of new registered nurses, about half come from other states.

    That's a concern as other states fund nurse scholarships and hospitals offer signing bonuses of up to $14,000.

    In January, California became the first state to act on an issue crucial to hospital nurses: minimum nurse-to-patient ratios. If other states follow suit, experts say, that could make it harder for South Carolina to lure nurses.

    The report suggests ways to deal with the shortage, including:

    * A state-supported center to gather data on the nursing work force and develop ways to increase it.

    * A statewide plan to boost nursing education, including more state money for scholarships and nursing faculty. Also, state loan forgiveness for nurses who agree to work in needy areas and incentives to attract men and minorities.

    * State grants to encourage recruitment and retention of nurses, build leadership skills, reward excellence and encourage better working conditions.

    Several legislators said they agreed the nursing situation is urgent, but there won't be funding for it this year. The Legislature faces a budget shortfall of about $320 million for the budget year beginning July 1.

    "We're desperate for more trained nurses, but there's absolutely no money for it," said state Sen. J. Verne Smith, R-Greenville.

    Rep. Rick Quinn, R-Richland, said some legislators wanted to use lottery money for nursing scholarships, but that idea went nowhere. "I think this will be a higher-education issue," he said, meaning that proposals for increased funding might go before the education subcommittee.

    Rep. Tom Keegan, R-Horry, chairs that subcommittee. He agreed with Quinn, noting that both universities and technical schools train nurses.

    "This is a tight budget year, and there really isn't room for expanded programs or funding, '.'.'. but in light of the desperate need, I certainly feel that it is a matter we must address in the future," Keegan said.
  9. by   traumaRUs
    Pls don't suggest going overseas to hire nurses. Having worked overseas in Korea, Japan and Spain, buying overseas isn't the answer. How about paying RNs enough to raise a family??? I made 52K last year with quite a bit of OT, working third shift. My base is only $22/hr!!! And, that's with ten years experience...pay us more and then there won't be a need to look outside our shores.

    Just to clarify, I have worked extensively with foreign-trained nurses and honestly feel they need to give us more incentive to put up with what we put up with!!!
  10. by   -jt
    interesting article on the subject from Manila:

    "Demand for nurses abroad too much "

    " The Philippines may be churning out nurse professionals too slowly because Labor officials admitted on Thursday that that the country could not comply with the work supply demand in the United States and Europe....

    Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit III has admitted in the past that because of the high demand for Filipino nurses abroad, "the country may suffer a brain drain.".......

    Labor Secretary Patricia Sto.Tomas on Thursday said the country could not cope up with the requirements of foreign countries for nurses and other hospital staff.......

    "The country cannot comply with the industry demand for nurses abroad. There are simply too many job orders," she said....

    He said many of the good nurses working here have decided to fly abroad because of the much better pay and the government could only watch helplessly......."

    full article at:
    http://allnurses.com/news/jump.cgi?ID=859


    << ANA's Message to Congress:
    OPPOSE increasing importation of RNs -

    Immigration and the Nursing Workforce:

    "ANA believes that the U. S. healthcare industry has failed to maintain a work environment that is conducive to safe, quality nursing practice and that retains experienced U. S. nurses within patient care. ANA supports continuation of the current certification process to apply to all
    foreign-educated
    health care workers regardless of their visa or other entry status. ANA opposes efforts to exempt foreign-educated nurses from current H-1B visa program requirements........

    The Issues Surrounding Immigration and the Nursing Workforce:

    ***The practice of changing immigration law to facilitate the use of foreign-educated nurses is a short-term solution that serves only the interests of the hospital industry, not the interests of patients, domestic nurses, or foreign-educated nurses.
    ANA condemns the practice of recruiting nurses from countries with their own nursing shortage......

    The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 requires that ALL foreign health care professionals, except physicians, must be certified by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) or another independent, government-certified organization qualified to issue
    credentials. The certification process verifies that the foreign health care worker's education, training, or experience meets all applicable statutory and regulatory requirements for entry into the United States. In addition, any foreign license submitted must be validated as authentic and unencumbered. If the health care worker is a registered nurse (RN), the nurse must have passed an examination testing both nursing skill and English language
    proficiency........

    ***The cause of instability in the nursing workforce must be addressed ......

    ***Over-reliance on foreign-educated nurses serves only to postpone efforts required to address the needs of the U.S. nursing workforce........

    ***Foreign-educated nurses brought into the United States tend to be placed in jobs with unacceptable working conditions with the expectation that these nurses, as temporary residents and foreigners, would not be in a position to complain......

    *** ANA OPPOSES this legislation that would change the regulations and certification process and OPPOSES legislation that will allow for increasing the numbers of nurses healthcare facilities may recruit from over-seas.
    http://www.ana.org/gova/federal/legis/107/rnltc.htm >>>>>>>



    All U.S. nurses are asked to contact their elected federal legislators to do the same. Tell your Congressman and US Senator to vote NO on this legislation - OPPOSE changing the certification process for foreign recruited nurses and OPPOSE increasing importation of foreign-trained nurses......

    For a comparison chart of current regulations versus the new proposed legislation that would change the regulations, change the certification process, and increase the number of nurses that can be recruited from overseas, See http://www.ana.org/gova/federal/gachrt97.htm
  11. by   needdynurse
    As far as my little city in Canada the whole issue here is poor money managment.
    Q IS PATIENT CARE IMPORTANT

    Q ARE NURSES OVER WORKED

    Q IS BEING A NURSE WORSE THAN SAY IN 1960
    A THE ANSWER TO THESE RESOUNDING QUESTION IS ----YES
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Q IS MAKING THE HOSPITAL MORE EXPENSIVE TO RUN NECESSARY

    Q IS MULTI MILLION ADDITIONS TO AN ALREAD TOP NOTCHED HOSPITAL IMPORTANT

    Q ARE THE NURSES MILLITANT ENOUGH

    Q WAS SLAVERY ABOLISHED IN ABOUT 1862

    Q DO NURSES WORK VERY HARD TO GET WHERE THEY ARE,IF THEY CARE

    Q WALK OUT I SAY EXCEPT FOR ESENTIAL SERVICES ,SEE HOW FAST THEY
    MOVE TO GET US BACK

    Q STAND UP AND BE COUNTED "YOU ARE A NUSE AND A DARN GOOD ON"

    Q DO NURSES GET THE SAME RECOGNITION THAT PHYSICIANS DO-WHY NOT

    DOCTORS COME IN READ NURSES REPORTS,"ORDER" MEDS.RE THE NURSES FINDINGS, LOOK IN THE C.P.S. & WALK OUT......COME AND FIND ME DOC NRSDUG :angryfire

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Nurse shortage worsens in Georgia