The nursing industry is again going through a shortage crisis. As per this AP report, many hospitals and companies are desperate to get new hires. My favorite attempt mentioned was Residential Home Health, which provides in-home nursing for seniors on Medicare. They "lavished registered nurses and other health care workers with free champagne and a trivia contest hosted by game-show veteran Chuck Woolery. Prizes included a one-year lease for a 2009 SUV, hotel stays and dinners." First of all, I am so sad for Chuck Woolery. Has his life gotten that bad that he has to hang out at a nursing home or is he so old that he just lives there now?
The article focuses on recruitment and shows the many unique ways being used to get new hires including offering: chair massages, lavish catering and contests for flat-screen TVs, GPS devices, shopping sprees worth as much as $1,000, and gas cards. This is all well and good but the there has to be a bigger issue behind all of this. The key paragraph was this:
The shortage has been operating since World War II on an eight- to 10-year cycle, industry experts say. Each time the number of nurses reaches a critical low, the government adds funding and hospitals upgrade working conditions. But as the deficit eases, those retention efforts fade and eventually the old conditions return, often driving nurses into other professions.
The nursing shortage is very similar to the physician shortage, with primary care in particular. The philosophy has always been that “retention starts with recruitment” philosophy. You need to find the right physician to match the elements and the community. The right fit. More importantly, I think, is the reverse of this or “recruitment also starts with retention”. Satisfied physicians recruit better. There is a feeling of being a team and any recruited physician can feel that. It’s palpable. Upgrading working conditions applies to doctors as well. It is my opinion that after the first 6 months, employers start taking employees for granted and that is when they lose them. I have been unimpressed with the "physician retention programs" that are out there. The warning signs are on the horizon. As the physician shortage goes up the physician turnover rate goes up proportionately which overburdens those doctors that are left. All this leads to a vicious cycle that even Chuck Woolery won't be alble fix.