Archive for February, 2013

Protecting nurses from workplace violence in Montana

Posted in Nursing News

Montana State Rep. Kathy Swanson, Sponsor of HB 269

Montana State Rep. Kathy Swanson, Sponsor of HB 269

Reports and surveys by the American Nurses Association, the Emergency Nurses Association and the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that workplace violence is widespread in the healthcare sector.   In an attempt to address the problem, thirty-eight state legislatures have enacted laws that enhance criminal charges and penalties for those who assault nurses and other healthcare workers.   These are similar to the criminal statutes that exist in nearly every state that provide for enhanced penalties for those who assault police officers and other public servants.   Yet there are still a dozen states that don’t have such laws to protect healthcare workers.  In some of those states there are enhanced penalties for assaults against sports officials (such as baseball umpires and basketball referees) but no enhanced penalties for assaulting a nurse, doctor or other healthcare worker.   One state that has yet to enact a law to deter workplace violence against healthcare workers is Montana.

Last December, the Montana Nurses Association and Montana State House Representative Kathy Swanson decided to change that with the introduction of Montana House Bill No. 269 (“An Act Creating The Offense Of Assault On A Health Care Provider Or Emergency Responder; And Providing Penalties”).

In a letter to the editor published yesterday, Don Judge from the Montana Nurses Association reiterated some of the reasons for the legislation:

HB 269 is simply a law designed to protect healthcare workers from vicious assault in their workplace. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, over 500,000 nurses are violently assaulted in their workplace every year! Workplace violence against healthcare workers ranks no. 1 with over 50 percent of all workplace assaults occurring in healthcare situations. This situation is especially bad in Emergency Rooms where fully 54.8 percent of nurses surveyed reported being assaulted at work in the last seven days.

Montana is not immune from such assaults, at least three nurses in our state received injuries from workplace assaults last year which will likely prevent them from ever returning to their chosen occupation. HB 269 recognizes this problem and creates a separate offence of assaulting a healthcare worker.

A hearing on the bill was held on January 31, 2013.  There were a number of objections to the bill by the American Civil Liberties Union and advocates for the disabled and mentally ill.  On February 7, 2013, the bill was tabled by the Judiciary Committee of the Montana House of Representatives.  It is likely to be reintroduced with amendments to satisfy some of the concerns raised.

Here are some video excerpts from the hearing:

Kathy Swanson introduces Montana HB 269

Montana nurse Rebecca Sturdevant on Montana HB 269

Nurses speak out in support of Montana HB 269

Make sure you don’t miss out on the latest nursing news and important announcements: Follow us on Twitter  or like the Ultimate Nurse page on Facebook

Is the nursing shortage a myth?

Posted in Nursing Jobs

A recent press release by a nursing education and career portal claims that a survey indicating that 62% of newly graduated nurses have difficulty finding a job is evidence that the nursing shortage is a myth.

“The so called nursing shortage is really a myth”, said Cathy Miller, Director of Education for “The idea that we as a country are experiencing a drastic shortage in nurses is not really correct. Most nursing jobs now specifically state they are not interested in non-experienced nurses.”

There is no question that it is harder for new graduates with no experience to find a nursing job.  In January 2013, CNN reported on how difficult it is for many newly graduated nurses to find employment.  However, this does not indicate that the nursing shortage is a myth.  There may not be a shortage of new graduates of nursing programs but there is a very real shortage of experienced nurses.  New graduates can increase their chances of landing a job by getting additional certifications, gaining experience by participating in internship and preceptorship programs and being willing to relocate to areas where there is a higher demand for their services and more employers willing to hire new nurses.   While it may take longer, newly graduated nurses who are persistent will eventually find a job.

Labor statistics indicate that the nursing shortage is indeed very real and not a myth.  A recent press release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the healthcare sector added 23,000 jobs in January 2013 and 320,000 jobs in 2012.  This is significant increase over the 296,900 healthcare sector jobs added in 2011.  Most of those jobs are for nurses and there are many more jobs that are going unfilled due to a shortage of experienced nurses.  As the economy recovers, nurses retire, the U.S. population ages and tens of millions of previously uninsured Americans gain health care insurance in 2014 when certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act take effect, health care spending will increase significantly and the demand for nurses and nurse practitioners will continue to increase and remain strong.

It is clear that filling this growing demand will require hundred of thousands of new nurses over the next few years.  It is also clear that nursing schools and healthcare employers need to provide more opportunities for nursing school students and new graduates to get clinical on-the-job training so they have the experience needed.

What do you think?  Is the nursing shortage a myth or very real?  What should nursing schools and healthcare employers do to increase opportunities for nursing school students and new graduates to gain the experience needed? Let us know in the comments or the forum.

Make sure you don’t miss out on the latest nursing news and important announcements: Follow us on Twitter  or like the Ultimate Nurse page on Facebook