Despite High Demand For Nurses, Colleges Aren't Keeping Up

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Specializes in Mental health, substance abuse, geriatrics, PCU. Has 14 years experience.

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I'm curious for everyone's thoughts on this article. The nursing shortage or surplus depending on your region has been discussed many times here but I think this article would be more accurate if it said there's a shortage of experienced nurses willing to tolerate the poor working conditions of the bedside. I can't think of a single peer of mine that doesn't have the goal of either going to a non-clinical position, or becoming a nurse practitioner. I think the pandemic is driving even more people from the bedside making working conditions even worse for those that remain. What's happening in your region? Is it feast or famine? What do you feel this article gets right/wrong? 

Despite High Demand For Nurses, Colleges Aren't Keeping Up

There are plenty of nurses. There aren’t any jobs. Employers have always utilized minimal staffing metrics and now they are slashing FTEs to make up for the revenue lost in the pandemic. Today I was assigned to do what used to be the job of two nurses. The chickens have come home to roost and once more it’s going to fall on us to make it work. The pandemic has only pulled the veil back on the dysfunctional healthcare system we have but even when it’s over I’m certain hospital administrators will have learned nothing. 

SmilingBluEyes

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

There are enough nurses, just not enough who want to put up with lousy conditions in many hospitals and LTCs. Also, while I personally welcome students,  they are NOT "an extra pair of hands";   they are a liability and a lot of work for the staff nurse. Not every nurse wants to precept or mentor and should not be forced to. Many are,  and this is terrible for  the nursing student and his/her mentor. If conditions improved, a shortage would be almost unheard-of except in certain pockets of the country.

TheMoonisMyLantern, ADN, LPN, RN

Specializes in Mental health, substance abuse, geriatrics, PCU. Has 14 years experience.

4 hours ago, SmilingBluEyes said:

There are enough nurses, just not enough who want to put up with lousy conditions in many hospitals and LTCs. Also, while I personally welcome students,  they are NOT "an extra pair of hands";   they are a liability and a lot of work for the staff nurse. Not every nurse wants to precept or mentor and should not be forced to. Many are,  and this is terrible for  the nursing student and his/her mentor. If conditions improved, a shortage would be almost unheard-of except in certain pockets of the country.

Yeah, I rolled my eyes at the part about students being a big help to staff nurses. No offense to students, we all start out as one, but teaching and supervising students is a heavy responsibility that doesn't just fall on the instructor but on the staff nurse. Sometimes we just have too much work to be teaching and instructing a student(s) in addition to doing patient care. And depending on where the student is at in their training can determine their usefulness, when its early and they can't even operate a dynamap, how is that helpful to staff nurses?

 

TheMoonisMyLantern, ADN, LPN, RN

Specializes in Mental health, substance abuse, geriatrics, PCU. Has 14 years experience.

4 hours ago, Wuzzie said:

There are plenty of nurses. There aren’t any jobs. Employers have always utilized minimal staffing metrics and now they are slashing FTEs to make up for the revenue lost in the pandemic. Today I was assigned to do what used to be the job of two nurses. The chickens have come home to roost and once more it’s going to fall on us to make it work. The pandemic has only pulled the veil back on the dysfunctional healthcare system we have but even when it’s over I’m certain hospital administrators will have learned nothing. 

Hospitals and LTC facilities failed to plan for a rainy day despite the CDC saying for decades that were overdue for a world wide pandemic. When I was in nursing school several years ago, we had a guest speaker who did disaster planning in my region with the areas hospitals, nursing facilities, etc. He talked about how "well prepared" they were for a possible pandemic. Then covid happens and no one new what to do or how to respond in our community. What a joke. The systematic failures of our healthcare system is raining down, and you know that nursing staff won't be kept under the umbrella. They'll cut our staff to the bone to keep the CEO's pockets lined and when anything bad happens the nurse will be the scapegoat.

When I was a student I was also a working CNA. Can’t remember considering myself to be a help to any preceptor. If they had let me loose to do CNA tasks as well as any student stuff, I could see saying it was worth having me there. Not that I did not want to gain more from my clinical experience. There just wasn’t enough “meat” to what I was expected to do.

Tweety, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac. Has 29 years experience.

I remember over 20 years ago being frustrated with the number of students on waiting lists unable to get into schools because of lack of spots, all the while importing nurses from the Philippines (awesome nurses by the way but seems a bit off).  This caused a prevalence of for-profit institutions that capitalize on students wanting the education quickly or because they don't have a 4.0 on prereqs to get the coveted few spots.

Any evidenced based studied on idea that there are enough nurses but they just don't want to do hospital work?  Seems like here in Florida that is not the case as there are thousands of job openings including plenty of openings outside the hospital. 

Students are very eager to help in any way and I generally don't mind having them.  But they shouldn't be considered "an extra pair of hands".   I don't think on people that do not want to take them it shouldn't be forced.  

Edited by Tweety

OUxPhys, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiology. Has 6 years experience.

This is a double edged sword. There are probably legit shortages in rural areas. "Shortages" in urban areas is a myth because either hospitals have shifted to hiring BSN only nurses (which usually never works) or as someone pointed out new grads don't want to work in horrendous conditions at nursing homes, LTACs, hospitals. 

1 hour ago, OUxPhys said:

There are probably legit shortages in rural areas.

Maybe some, but I don't even fully believe that. Rural areas have people who have history and roots in those areas, they want careers and they need jobs just like anyone anywhere else and quite a few of them prefer the lifestyle and are not just willing to stay but hoping to stay. I've worked in a couple of places like that; one was a CAH and it wasn't suffering for nursing help. If anything people will commute an hour or so to a community college with the full intention of working where they grew up once they finish nursing school.

But understand that ^ this is the type of things corporations have absolutely trashed. They don't want it. They don't want to have to show any loyalty of their own to a community that was there long before they rolled into town. They seem to think that having loyal, well-connected employees is too much trouble and a threat to their business ideas. They don't care about community relationships, they are there to put their name on things and to commandeer whatever meager resources exist and use them in a way that benefits their flagship. And they return much less to the community than what they lead people to believe.

It is ridiculous to think there is a shortage of nurses in any but the most desperate of areas. And pumping out more nurses isn't going to change the fact that a small number of areas are really going to perpetually struggle.

My firm belief is that, with regard to help/staff,  healthcare organizations are only struggling because of their own poor choices. I've been saying for years that it doesn't matter who you are or how lowly you are viewed by a business exec, people don't enjoy being treated like crap and will seek to figure out something else if they have even the slightest chance of doing so.

TheMoonisMyLantern, ADN, LPN, RN

Specializes in Mental health, substance abuse, geriatrics, PCU. Has 14 years experience.

1 hour ago, Tweety said:

I remember over 20 years ago being frustrated with the number of students on waiting lists unable to get into schools because of lack of spots, all the while importing nurses from the Philippines (awesome nurses by the way but seems a bit off).  This caused a prevalence of for-profit institutions that capitalize on students wanting the education quickly or because they don't have a 4.0 on prereqs to get the coveted few spots.

Any evidenced based studied on idea that there are enough nurses but they just don't want to do hospital work?  Seems like here in Florida that is not the case as there are thousands of job openings including plenty of openings outside the hospital. 

Students are very eager to help in any way and I generally don't mind having them.  But they shouldn't be considered "an extra pair of hands".   I don't think on people that do not want to take them it shouldn't be forced.  

When I was an LPN at one point I was getting frustrated by the wait lists and red tape at my local community college. A new for profit school opened that had no wait list, direct entry, easy entry exam, blah blah blah. I was all ready for it until they got to the tuition, $50,000 for an associate's degree. Ridiculous. Needless to say, I was desperate, but not that desperate and stuck with the community college route. To make things worse, the college lost their accreditation before one of their classes could graduate and I'm not even sure if the students got their money back. I work with several LPN's that went to a for profit school with tuition of $30,000! I hate how predatory organizations are towards potential and actual nurses. The schools charge insane tuition, and now hospitals are forcing new grads into contracts they can't keep because conditions are so bad... sigh.

My area is similar to yours in that there are openings galore and even sign on bonuses being offered at many facilities. New grads are having a pretty easy time finding work here. 

8 hours ago, TheMoonisMyLantern said:

Hospitals and LTC facilities failed to plan for a rainy day despite the CDC saying for decades that were overdue for a world wide pandemic. When I was in nursing school several years ago, we had a guest speaker who did disaster planning in my region with the areas hospitals, nursing facilities, etc. He talked about how "well prepared" they were for a possible pandemic.

These fools have spent the last decade or more with their "lean" BS! That's what they have been doing. They don't have any room to breathe on a good day.

Their entire plan has been to cut everything to the bone and expect the fallout to be taken up and made whole by their bottom-rung entry-level bedside staff. They are freaking crazy, that's all there is to it.

3 minutes ago, TheMoonisMyLantern said:

The schools charge insane tuition, and now hospitals are forcing new grads into contracts they can't keep because conditions are so bad... sigh.

The contracts are practically proof all on their own that there is no nursing shortage. If there were a real shortage, there would be no nurse anywhere who would have to sign one to get a job, even as a new grad.