OKC-Area Recruiting Programs Help Hospitals Contend with Nursing Shortage

Article excerpt

Not so long ago, nursing was the target of many young women when it came time for a career choice.

But with options for women much better than they once were, nursing hasn't been quite as attractive to some.

And because of it, the United States is suffering a prolonged shortage of nurses.

Locally, hospitals have not suffered as much as those in many other cities and areas, and part of that is due to aggressive recruiting and incentives.

We've done quite well in the last couple of years, said Angie Kamermayer, director for patient care services at Integris Southwest Medical Center. We've had two big recruitment years. We attribute that to Health Careers, a program we have, and intern programs and nursing academic loans. We offer placement when they complete their degree.

Southwest and others are still short in nurses, but the condition is not critical.

Tammy Powell, chief nursing officer at St. Anthony, said the hospital also has recruiting and retention programs and is attempting to get nursing back to the forefront.

Back in the 1950s, the two professions that lured females were teaching and nursing, Powell said. Over the decades there have been so many more opportunities.

Hospitals here are drumming up more recruits.

We are feeling the shortage, but not so severely, Powell said. Our vacancies have decreased about 50 percent. We are better off than the coasts, especially the West Coast, where there's a huge shortage.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 87,085 candidates in 2004 took the NCLEX-RN nursing exam on completion of the particular degree they earned. That's down from 96,438 in 1995 but significantly higher than the 68,709 low point in 2001.

The numbers have climbed steadily in four years. Still, officials at the AACN reported that 72 percent of chief executive officers at hospitals have indicated they are experiencing a nursing shortage. Meanwhile, the time to fill registered nursing vacancies at small to medium hospitals decreased by 18 percent in 2003 but the average time for RN vacancies filled this year has increased from 60 to 61 days.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released last year indicated that a million new nurses will be needed by 2012.

Like many professions and industries, nursing is bracing for the retirement of baby boomers. …