As we enter 2019, the U.S. continues to suffer from a shortage of nurses. In fact, the current nursing vacancy rate is now at 13 percent. This shortage, which also includes a lack of medical assistants and nursing assistants, is forcing hospitals to start brainstorming potential solutions. However, while many seem to be missing the mark, many hospitals and other healthcare facilities are becoming more nurse-friendly than ever.
The Nursing Shortage Problem
Nursing is a rapidly growing occupation in the U.S. However, the supply of current and near-future nurses cannot meet the extremely high demand. As more and more nurses reach retirement age, there needs to be an equal number of new nurses entering the labor force to replace them, otherwise a shortage occurs. While the Bureau of Labor projects that employment of registered nurses will grow by 16 percent from 2014 to 2024, there will still be a significant shortage of nurses across the country.
How are Hospitals Trying to Combat the Shortage?
Hospitals across the country are developing creative ways to incentivize more nurses to join them. Some hospitals are offering free sodas to nurses who have earned it, while other hospitals are offering to pay people’s way through nursing school if they promise to work at their location after graduation. Additionally, some facilities are giving out large sign-on bonuses; every new nurse who joins their staff can expect a $1,500 – 5,000 bonus.
While free sodas and bonuses are great incentives, nurses say they are not good enough solutions to this nursing shortage. Nurses are currently facing poor working conditions, little respect in the workplace and low job satisfaction. It is these major issues that need to be addressed if the nursing shortage is going to be fixed. Many nurses say that a one-time, $5,000 bonus is not enough to make them stay in a job that lowers their overall quality of life. This tactic is only working to move nurses from job to job, it is not creating new nurses. If the shortage is going to end, nurses want long-term solutions to make their jobs more rewarding.
Are There Any Long-term Solutions?
According to several nurses interviewed at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, the correct way to end the nursing shortage is not by handing out one-time perks, but to offer nurses a better work experience every day. Nurses want more recognition in the workplace, respect from colleagues and a more positive work environment. With this in mind, hospitals across the country have started to apply for magnet hospital status. Magnet hospital status is a relatively new concept that allows the hospital to be more nurse-friendly.
Magnet hospitals originally came about in the 1980s during a previous national nursing shortage. These hospitals were classified as being able to recruit and retain professional nurses while there was a serious lack across the country. To be a magnet hospital, one must be considered a great place to work by its nurses, have a low turnover rate for its nursing staff and be located in a place with notable competition for nursing jobs. A recent survey shows that nurses at magnet hospitals make 4.8 percent more than nurses at non-magnet hospitals. They also receive continual education and training on all floors of the hospital, including information on new drugs and treatment practices.
In addition to the magnet status, some hospitals are offering education reimbursement to their nurses. This means that if they choose to advance their medical careers, their hospital will pay them back for any expenses. This will allow nurses to expand their opportunities and continue to strive for more knowledge. There are also 15-step compensation programs going into effect that will offer pay raises to employees as they gain experience. Colleges in rural communities are also teaming up to offer more nursing opportunities to students who may otherwise not have access to them. For example, the University of Iowa and Eastern Iowa Community Colleges are partnering up to make it easier for students, and thus incentivize them, to obtain their RN degree.
Start Your Nursing Career as a CNA
With these new incentives in place and the growing demand, now is a great time to consider a career in nursing and becoming a nursing assistant (CNA) or patient care technician is an excellent place to start. With hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities across the country in desperate need of qualified candidates, choosing a career in medicine has never look brighter.