Archive for June, 2009

Great Recession is Temporarily Slowing the Nursing Shortage

Posted in Nursing, Nursing Jobs, Nursing Specialties, Permanent Placement, Travel Nursing

The nursing shortage has always been a cyclic issue. For instance, consider the fact that just about 25 years ago there were actually too many nurses and it was quit difficult to find a job. Many of those who became nurses then are now in their 50’s and seriously thinking about retiring today, but for now the economy has slowed them down.

Nursing is one of the most physically and emotionally challenging professions and consequently many nurses are quite ready to retire in their 50’s. When the economy really began to sour last fall, and retirement plans such as 401Ks took a nose dive, many nurses decided to delay their retirement.

In addition, many nurses found themselves returning to the profession because their spouses had been laid off. As a result of these two factors coupled with lower hospital censuses, the shortage of nurses has actually begun to shrink.

This may be a fix to the nursing shortage right now, but it’s quite temporary. When the economy recovers, there may be an even larger mass exodus of nurses than previously expected.

Take for example the fact that the average age of nurses in California is 47, and 45% of those nurses are actually over the age of 50. Potentially 45% of the nurses in California could be retiring very soon.

California is near the bottom of the number of nurses per capita at 647 RNs for every 100,000 persons. The national number is 825 per 100,000. Only Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico rank lower than California. California is also one of the states with a mandatory nurse-to-patient ratio. Arizona is considering this type of legislation as well.

The number of new nurses cannot keep up with the number leaving the profession, even with the slower pace of retirement. It’s certainly not for lack of potential students as many thousands are turned away each year because of the lack of nurse educators. Schools just cannot compete with the salaries nurses can earn working in a hospital versus teaching.

Some hospital groups have invested in nursing programs to help them expand and accept more students in an effort to forestall the shortage which will be presented by a mass exodus of nurses. This has helped, but it’s going to take a lot more to make a dent in the potential crisis.

As health care reform efforts make progress, the potential for an additional 46 million currently uninsured Americans to have improved access to health care will also make a dramatic impact on the nursing shortage as demands for care increase.

So for those nurses who are having some difficulty finding jobs right now, don’t get too discouraged. As the economy begins to recover, there will soon be no shortage of jobs for nurses.

Opportunities for travel nurses should begin to pick up again and those nurses who have a large repertoire of skills and experiences will be able to command offers like never before.

Nurses should take advantage of these times and expand their knowledge base and skills set to prepare for the future.

©2009 by All Rights Reserved. By Kathy Quan RN BSN. Kathy is the author of four books including The Everything New Nurse Book. She is also the owner/author of

An Interesting Time to be a Nurse

Posted in Nursing, Nursing Jobs, Permanent Placement

The nursing profession is certainly never boring. Nurses are always expected to work miracles in the face of any and all obstacles, and most times we do.

Currently the Great Recession and the move to reform health care in the U.S. have impacted the nursing profession in many ways and will continue to do so for quite some time.

Hospitals and other health care facilities have long been impacted by the shortage of nurses, and now the economic factors are causing administrators to cut back on staffing.

Most nurses have weathered the seasonal call offs due to a low patient census and sometimes it’s nice to have a few unexpected days off, but when you’ve used up all of your personal time for these furloughs and face even more time off because of cutbacks, it isn’t fun anymore.

When you do work and are expected to give quality patient care to twice as many patients as you should have, that isn’t fun either. But administrators seem to expect nurses to work miracles under the worst of circumstances, and never ask nurses for an opinion on how to improve conditions and make the care more cost effective.

At the same time the nurses are expected to provide the quality of care needed to ensure reimbursement isn’t affected such as preventing decubs, pneumonia, UTIs and DVTs that are on Medicare’s Do Not Pay list.

A recent study of infection-control specialists published June 9 on Modern pointed out that education about hospital-acquired infections has been significantly reduced due to budget cuts.

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) surveyed 1943 members in March 2009. Forty four percent of the responders said that they attend fewer meetings at their hospitals now because of cutbacks, and 42% said they no longer conduct as many walking rounds in their facilities. Hiring freezes and staffing cuts have caused them to spend more time on other duties than focusing on prevention.

In the long run, APIC thinks that hospitals will spend more money treating these infections than they would have in preventing them in the first place, but administrators haven’t figured that out yet. Again they don’t talk to or listen to the nurses.

Meanwhile health care reform measures will (hopefully) make it possible for many more Americans to have health insurance coverage and to afford health care. On the other hand, there is a serious shortage of health care workers, most notably nurses. This shortage is growing and will reach crisis levels in the next few years. Increasing the number of potential patients who can afford health care is going to make the demand for nurses even greater.

Anne Zieger from said a few weeks ago that from her observations, “nursing unions are on the verge of revolution.” Two of the most powerful nursing unions, CNA/NNOC and SEIU have even set aside their fierce rivalry to work together on the issue of health care reform. The two issues at the forefront are mandated nurse-to-patient ratios and required overtime.

It certainly is an interesting time to be a nurse.

©2009 by All Rights Reserved. By Kathy Quan RN BSN. Kathy is the author of four books including The Everything New Nurse Book. She is also the owner/author of

Nurse Jackie

Posted in Permanent Placement, Uncategorized

Showtime has a new series out called “Nurse Jackie”.

Here is the synopsis:

Nurse Jackie is a half-hour dark comedy that is at turns wicked, heartbreaking and funny. Edie Falco stars as the title character Jackie Peyton, a strong-willed and brilliant — but very flawed — emergency room nurse working in the complicated and frenzied environment of a New York City hospital. A lapsed Catholic with a weakness for painkillers to get her through the days, Jackie keeps the hospital balanced with her unique bedside manner and own brand of medical justice. Every day is a high-wire act of juggling patients, doctors and fellow nurses along with her indiscretions. Jackie

It is going to be interesting to see what kind of light Nurse Jackie will shine on the nursing profession.

Please go here for Nurse Jackie Discussion.