Hospitals attempting to curb nursing shortages

With the nation's nursing shortage expected to reach upward of 500,000 by the year 2025, several entities are beginning to take action in an attempt to curb the trend. Some hospitals are paying for nurses to receive longer and more thorough residencies, which cost around $5,000 per resident. The alternative--recruiting and training a replacement nurse--can cost up to $50,000 according to some personnel experts.

Other programs, such as the Versant RN Residency--developed at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles and used at 70 other hospitals throughout the U.S.--allow new nurses to be paired with veteran nurses for a training period of 18 weeks. Initially, the more experienced nurse does most of the work while the rookie nurse watches; in the end, the roles are reversed.

The latter program has shown to be effective in some areas. At Baptist Health South Florida near Miami, nursing turnover rates have fallen from 22 percent to 10 percent in 18 months.

The federal government is also aware of the problem, and has awarded $17 million in grants to 75 hospitals for first-year training programs. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing also is thinking about implementing a standardized transition program.

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