Hospitals clamor for specialty nurses amid shortage

The nursing shortage is getting worse, according to a report from Massachusetts Hospital Association and the Organization of Nurse Leaders. Vacancy rates for registered nurses rose from 3 percent in 2010 to 3.9 in 2011 in a survey of 76 hospitals, The Boston Globe reported. The shortage of RNs at specialty hospitals was worse at 5.1 percent, compared to acute care hospitals at a 3.9 vacancy rate, according to the report.

RN vacancies were highest in pediatric critical care units, home health and emergency departments, but post-partum/nursery units, rehab and skilled nursing services were better stocked with more workers.

Nevertheless, the number of open RN spots is slightly better than the median 4.1 percent vacancy rate of the past 24 years. National studies indicate that's because older, married nurses are reentering the workforce, motivated by increased pay and the economic downturn.

According to a brief last month from recruiting firm HEALTHeCAREERS Network, nursing represented the biggest increase (40 percent) in job openings from the first quarter to second quarter nationwide.

For more information:
- check out the survey (.pdf)
- see the White Coats Notes blog post on The Boston Globe

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