Can nurses meet work demand?

Although much attention focuses on filling physician spots, many hospitals increasingly are facing more vacancies in nurse positions. Nursing represented the biggest increase (40 percent) in job openings from Q1 to Q2, according to a brief issued today from recruiting firm HEALTHeCAREERS Network. For instance, job openings for nurse practitioners grew 16 percent from the first to the second quarter of this year.

"Like many healthcare organizations, we have been operating [against] a physician and nursing shortage for a while," said Willie French, director of talent acquisition at the Methodist Hospital System in Houston.

Most nursing openings (90 percent) were looking for experienced nurses rather than entry-level nurses, calling for more than one year of work experience. Twelve percent of job openings were for general medical and surgical registered nurses, 9 percent for emergency medicine registered nurses and 6 percent for nursing assistants.

Most likely do to the physician shortage and health reform changes, nurse job roles now contain more stringent requirements, meaning nurses are either looking for new employers or returning to school, causing the spike in nurse job openings, HEALTHeCAREERS Network noted.

"It's … possible that without enough physicians on board, hospitals are looking for temporary solutions such as increasing the number of experienced nursing staff," the report states.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that one out of every five new jobs created this year are in nursing, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reported. However, job growth in the healthcare sector was outpacing the amount of nurses who graduated in 2011.

"The literature is replete with studies that show that when you have a nursing shortage, you have poorer patient outcomes, more patient errors medication errors and patient falls, and it has a direct impact on the quality of healthcare they receive," said Denise Landry, chair of Marshall University's nursing school in West Virginia.

For more information:
- see the HEALTHeCAREERS Network brief (registration required)
- check out the West Virginia Public Broadcasting report

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