Further confirming big problems in the nursing profession, 25% of nurses in the Rochester area plan to leave in the next five years for a new career or to retire, and more than a third would not recommend the career to students.
Survey parallels earlier findings of a growing health care problem
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
By Matthew Daneman
(Thursday, October 11, 2001) -- Rochester-area nurses will be leaving the industry in droves in coming years, according to a survey of close to 2,000 registered nurses locally.
The findings parallel similar warnings that have been sounded about nursing nationally and state-wide. And they point to a looming major problem in a local health care system already strained by an aging population and the closing of Genesee Hospital, said Tobie Olsan, past president of the Genesee Valley Nursing Association.
The survey, done by the Finger Lakes Nursing Workforce Collaborative and released yesterday, is the only local data on the area's 12,000 registered nurses, Olsan said.
The collaborative, made up of groups ranging from nursing programs at area colleges to Blue Cross Blue Shield of the Rochester Area, started in 1999. Its goal was to tackle the nursing shortage, and the survey is one of the first fruits of its labor.
Among the findings:
*In the next five years, 26 percent of nurses surveyed planned to leave nursing altogether -- either for a new career or to retire.
*More than a third of nurses surveyed would not encourage students to go into nursing.
*People older than 50 make up more than a third of the area's RNs, while nurses between the ages of 20 and 30 account for only 7 percent of the nursing work force.
*According to the collaborative, the local demand for RNs will exceed supply by 17,000 by 2005. And by 2015, that gap will be nearly double.
"The study confirmed our hunches," said Deb Zimmermann, president of the Finger Lakes chapter of the American Organization of Nurse Executives. "(Now) our goal is to break the cyclical nature of the nursing shortage."
The collaborative's study came with recommendations for improving the lot of nurses, including:
*Creating links between nurse mentors and middle school and high school students.
*Making available financial assistance for under-represented populations going into nursing, such as young people, men and nonwhites.
*Eliminating excessive paperwork and potential sources of workplace injury.
Organizations already are taking some steps to address problems in the nursing industry. On Nov. 8, the Genesee Valley Nursing Association, along with several area colleges, will host a breakfast for local middle school and high school guidance counselors to talk about nursing issues.
While nursing sees a shortage of labor every six or so years, Olsan said, the current shortage is compounded by such factors as the aging American population and the fact that women today have more career options.
"Nursing is off the radar screen as a career for young people," she said.
With nursing school enrollments declining, "things are going to be pretty tight for quite a while," said Gail Ingersoll, director of clinical nursing research at Strong Memorial Hospital and a nursing school professor at the University of Rochester.