Hospitals To Fight Nurse Shortage With New Training Methods

As most of the nation’s hospitals deal with a shortage of nurses, some are taking steps to make sure new nurses don’t become overwhelmed.According to one national study, about 1 in 5 new nurses quit their jobs during the first year. And the national nursing shortage is expected to continue its steady growth for many years.Peter Buerhaus of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and an author of a book about the future of the nursing work force, said the national nursing shortage is expected to continue its steady growth for several years, possibly reaching 500,000 by 2025.New nurses struggle to come to terms with the career during their first year, because they often lack proper supervision. Therefore, some universities and hospitals are working to better equip nurses for their new job. Additionally, nursing schools are unable to bring new nurses to the workforce at a quick enough rate, so hospitals are focusing on retaining their nurses."It really was, 'Throw them out there and let them learn,'" University of Portland nursing professor Diane Vines told the AP. The university now helps run a yearlong program for new nurses."This time around, we're a little more humane in our treatment of first-year grads, knowing they might not stay if we don't do better," she said.Some hospitals will set up new nurses to shadow veteran ones for a few weeks, but sometimes that isn’t enough, said Katie O'Bryan, a new nurse who lasted no more than nine months working her first job in a Dallas emergency room.So more hospitals are investing in longer, more thorough residencies. These can cost roughly $5,000 per resident. But the cost of recruiting and training a replacement for a nurse who washed out is about $50,000, personnel experts estimate.One such program was developed at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The Versant RN Residency program began in 2004 and has since been used in 70 other hospitals.The Versant plan pairs new nurses with more experienced nurses and they share patients. At first, the veterans do the bulk of the work as the rookies watch; by the end of the 18-week training program, those roles are reversed.This program has been noted with success in hospitals including Baptist Health South Florida, which reports a reduction in its turnover rate from 22 percent to 10 percent in the 18 months since it started its program.Yaima Milian is currently part of the program at Baptist Health, she said she previously left her first nursing job in New Jersey after feeling unprepared to work by herself following a six-week orientation."It just didn't feel right, it felt very unsafe," Milian told the AP."Here you have this group that is pretty much experiencing the same things you're experiencing," Milian said of the Versant program, "and it makes you feel better."The American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the University HealthSystem Consortium teamed up in 2002 to create a residency primarily for hospitals affiliated with universities. Fifty-two sites now participate in that yearlong program and the average turnover rate for new nurses was about 6 percent in 2007. Read whole article here.

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