Archive for Thursday, July 10, 2008

Nursing steps

Training and retaining more qualified nurses is an important part of the Kansas health care challenge.

July 10, 2008


Efforts in Kansas to ease the ongoing nurses shortage deserve applause, but it seems that this problem isn't likely to go away anytime soon.

An Associated Press story last week cited a Kansas Department of Labor study that estimated Kansas will need 11,350 new registered nurses by 2010 to keep up with the demand. Kansas nursing schools graduated just 1,761 new nurses last year, which leaves the state far off the pace to meet the projected need.

Unfortunately, the shortage of nurses is a cycle that often feeds itself. When nursing numbers drop, each nurse must care for more patients, increasing their stress and concern about mistakes that could affect their patients. That situation obviously affects their job satisfaction and make it difficult to retain nurses.

Kansas, of course, isn't the only state with this problem. With a vacancy rate of 8.8 percent, Kansas is about at the national average. To its credit, the Kansas Legislature and the Kansas Board of Regents have launched an initiative that may not totally relieve the shortage, but will at least move things in the right direction.

Earlier this year, the regents announced the results of the first year of a 10-year, $30 million effort to boost nursing education in the state. During fiscal year 2007, they reported an increase of 507 in the number of students admitted to nursing programs and the addition of 29 full-time and 23 part-time faculty members. The program also awarded 53 scholarships to students who agreed to teach nursing in Kansas after completing a master's or doctoral degree in the field.

Because the Kansas University School of Medicine is one of the few Kansas schools that offer such programs, it plays a key role in increasing faculty numbers. That's a critical piece of the puzzle because nursing programs have had to turn away students because they didn't have sufficient teachers. This is particularly true at the KUMC where sizeable numbers of qualified applicants have been denied admission to the nursing program.

As is true of K-12 school teachers, nursing is a field that has perhaps been undervalued and underpaid largely because it is a predominantly female career. There are many dedicated teachers and nurses who do a wonderful job, but maintaining highly qualified work forces in both fields will be a challenge.

The Kansas programs to train and retain more nurses are a positive step, but the numbers show that more steps will be needed if the state is to meet the increased health care demands of the aging baby boom generation.


Kyle Neuer 9 years, 4 months ago

I know it's hard to keep nurses in Kansas when other, more scenic, parts of the country are paying twice as much/hr.

KEITHMILES05 9 years, 4 months ago

To the poster complaining about orientation you are so off base.There are very valid reasons to have that. You know nothing about the institution you are newly hired to work for. Orientation helps you become more familiar with the workings of that facility. You may "know" nursing but you don't know about the rest of the hospital procedures.As far as Joint Commission you might as well get used to it. It has been here for years and will STAY here.Sounds like to me you don't want to accept your responsibilities as a professional and do what is best for everybody.

MCHLL 9 years, 4 months ago

JCCC is offering CNA and CMA classes in Lawrence now, as well as some other classes. Also, Neosho County Community College in Ottawa has opened a campus in Lawrence off of Peterson Rd, and is offering several "health field" classes, including the CNA program.

Gina Bailey-Carbaugh 9 years, 4 months ago

Good news: St.Mary's university in Leavenworth just started a new RN program.Bad news: not only are nurses needed for the aging boomers (the average age of a nurse in Kansas is 42- many boomers themselves), but certified nursing assistants are going to be needed. These dedicated workers are truly undervalued and underpaid!

Sheila Hooper White 9 years, 4 months ago

my daughter will be starting her pre-nursing at highland community college and has hopes to transfer back to ku or jccc after. hope she sticks with it. sounds like she shouldn't have a hard time finding a job. i know someone who is working on her CNA and she has to go to ottawa. i couldn't do it, i hate needles, but amen to those who can.

oxandale 9 years, 4 months ago

There are several RN programs in Kansas. It depends if you want to become a 2 year degree RN or 4 year degree RN. The difference? 2 years and opportunity for advancement. They both sit and take the same professional license exam but the 4 year degree has better opportunity for nursing. University of Kansas has nursing program, but so does Washburn Universiy, Johnson County Community College, Kansas City Kansas Community College, just to name a few. The article might have been more helpful if it listed the schools and community colleges that offer RN programs.

working_momma 9 years, 4 months ago

This editorial fails to mention the ENDLESS bureaucratic red tape young eager nurses face upon entry into the profession. I have been a nurse for 9 years and I vividly remember thinking what a big mistake I had made becoming a nurse just after a few weeks of employment at my first nursing job. I think a wise place to start enticing young people to go into the profession would be to start eliminating some of the red tape. What do I mean by red tape you wonder...... Example: Once employed as a professional nurse you are required to sit through a multitude of "orientations" to teach you how to be a nurse. (Silly me, I thought that is why I went to nursing school) Real professional treatment. Did you know that when physicians finish their training they do not have to relearn at every institution how to do a pelvic exam or an appendectomy? The institutions trust that physicains learned what they needed to or they would not have been granted their medical degrees. Now that is professional treatment. Is this disparity because nursing has been predominantly female, perhaps, but that is no excuse to keep it that way. Organizations like the Joint Commission also make nurses life hell. Is ther ANY study proving that having pencil pushers like Joint Commission actually improves outcomes for patients receiving healthcare? I have not seen any. All these groups do are make nurses and other healthcare team members jump through unneeded hoops, and for what??????? Can you blame young people for not wanting to go into a profession where you are perceived as untrusted, under paid and under trained?

working_momma 9 years, 4 months ago

Baker University has a BSN (4 year) program. The actual nursing school is in Topeka. Fort Hays State and Wichita State also have BSN and MSN programs.

Gina Bailey-Carbaugh 9 years, 4 months ago

Nurse, while there are clinical limitations, there are no class limitations. I teach a class with twenty students and have to do two clinicals. The state regs limit teacher-student ratio in the clinical setting to 1:10. I limit the class to twenty, because I have had larger classes and it it just too much to handle. There are limited classes because there are few qualified nurses who are willing to teach. The qualifications for an instructor: RN and at least six months experience in long-term care. That's it. I encourage any nurse with the above qualifications to consider teaching. As a part time job, the money is pretty good and the benifits are even better. I enjoy seeing people go from the deer-in-the-headlight look to "hey, I can do this". It is also rewarding to bump into former students who have gone on to finish their nursing or who are working as CNAs somewhere.

nurse 9 years, 4 months ago

Unfortunately, the reason there aren't more openings in nursing programs is because of the shortage of qualified, good instructors. The reason there is a shortage of instructors in nursing education is the low pay. Most nurses can do almost anything, but teach, and make an excellent salary. But if a nursing program is state-accredited, which most area, the government is involved and that is why the pay is below par.Yes, there are CNA and CMA programs in Lawrence. They are provided through Neosho County Community College. If you are interested for a fall class, I'd inquire now, as many of the classes are ALWAYS full as there is a limit on the class sizes due to state clinical requirements.

Gina Bailey-Carbaugh 9 years, 4 months ago

Multi, Neosho County Community College of Chanute has a site in Lawrence (and a campus in Ottawa) with classrooms and practice labs. There are 3-4 CNA and CMA classes taught there each semester. The clinicals are held at Brandon Woods and Pioneer Ridge nursing facilities in Lawrence and at Medicaloges-Eudora in Eudora. I happen to be one of the instructors.I think all nursing programs should require CNA certification as a prerequisite. I have worked with brand new nurses who had no clue how to transfer a resident or how to give a bed bath.I have been a nurse for over 12 years. As with any industry, there are unpleasant requirements. I have found the positive experiences, the gratification of helping others to far outweigh the "red tape". Nursing is one of the most diversified fields - a nurse can work in a multitude of settings. I can't think of anything I would rather do.

Gina Bailey-Carbaugh 9 years, 4 months ago

Multi, I know what you mean. My youngest had a head injury and was cared for at KUMC. I was vacillating between being a concerned parent and a nurse who had to get the docs attention to tend to my daughter. I had a lengthy talk with a patient advocate. Healthcare workers are human and do make mistakes or lapses in judgement. So, I felt the patient advocate was a good tool to "teach" a doc and a couple nurses to be more on the ball.

Susan Mangan 9 years, 4 months ago

I'm an RN and never had a complaint about the things I was taught in new hospital orientations. I've never had anyone try to teach me basic nursing was always hospital-specific procedures, paperwork, charting, etc. That is where the majority of our time (UNFORTUNATELY) is the training is necessary.radiohawk - you would be surprised. The pay in this part of the country, especially considering the comparable cost of living, is pretty good. It would always be nice to make more, but where else can you work 2 days a week and support your entire family comfortably? Health care is stressful and often unappreciated, but it is incredibly rewarding both psychologically AND financially. I don't think a lot of people realize the opportunities and rewards from nursing or I believe a lot more people would flock to the field...there just aren't the openings in nursing programs to accomodate that right now.

amazonratz 9 years, 4 months ago

Dave, she needs to contact the KS State Board of Nursing They can direct her to the appropriate offices/steps. If she's been working in Michigan, she has a US license, and there are endorsement fees and apps. to get it approved as a Kansas license. Jobs around here are pretty plentiful for nurses. She can subscribe to the Kansas City Nursing News which has job listings for the Lawrence/KC area. I'm sure Wichita and Topeka have similar resources. The local papers of major cities are usually loaded with jobs. I'm sure she'd be quite welcome. Clinical sites and nursing educators are getting harder to find. Time--for the clinical preceptors, and low salaries for professors (as opposed to what they make outside of academia once they have a Master's Degree) are real barriers. If we don't have teachers or clinical sites, all the recruitment in the world will not help nursing.People talk a lot about the value of nursing, but the government time and again sends the opposite message. The Chief Nurse position is being eliminated from the Red Cross, and NOT ONE nurse was appointed to a govt. task force "Healthy People 2020."Many incentive programs are proposed, but not funded by congress. Many nurses today would not allow a loved one to stay in a hospital without 24-hour attendance by a family member due to the severe shortage of nurses. Nurses matter. I hope solutions can be discovered and FUNDED.

luv2brude 9 years, 4 months ago

I'm a Cna myself have been since 97 since then I've learned so much only because nurses put things off on us like we have nothing else to do..I love my job an its true we dont get enough thanks an yeah we are under paid that is the down fall.. We all need money I know that but I do it because I love doing it I love takin care of the elderly we laugh we cry we share so many memories my residents start to become family as well.....So if you have a family memeber in a nursing home pat us on the back tell us thanks because we are the ones that get paid way less do more work then the higher up people as well as we know your family memeber better!...thanks for all the comments.

emmashanty 9 years, 4 months ago

Just curious......I just came buy this blog by accident and have a few questions. (Actually I have been taking part in the Neil Young Blog). Please, anyone may answer:My friend is a Canadian RN with 20 years experience, how hard would it be to find full time work as an RN in your state? What would be the procedures and what contacts would you suggest for her? She has nursed in the state of Michigan for two years. She worked on medical floors and is now in Geriatrics. Thank you.....please reply!Dave

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