UMC focuses on retention plan to address nursing shortage - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/27/09

UMC focuses on retention plan to address nursing shortage

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Lubbock University Medical Center tells us the nursing shortage has been going on for years, and for years they have been trying to change it.  Now their efforts are finally being seen.

John Parsons started as a graduate nurse at UMC eight years ago.  "Right as I was starting the hospital has really changed their focus on not only our patients but also the people that work here and work to create an environment that nurses would want to stay," said Parsons. 

He has seen firsthand the turnover rate of nurses.  In 2000 UMC had a turnover rate of 40%, but now it has been cut in half.  And as the numbers show Vice President Greg Bruce says retention was strongly focused on. "One of the things that we have learned locally is that we can impact the nurse shortage by retaining the nurses that we have," said Bruce. 

A shortage USA Today says could reach 500,000 throughout the US by the year 2025.  "There is a limited number of instructors at nursing schools," said Bruce. 

The shortage can also be partly attributed to the baby boomer generation.  "You're seeing a shrinking pool of nurses as folks retire from that generation and we are also seeing a growth in the number of patients in that same population and it's creating some stresses in the industry," said Bruce.   

Nurses are always in need, so one recruitment effort of UMC is advertising in areas where the economy is hurting the worst, Bruce says a lot of attention is in Arizona. "It's a good thing for us because hopefully we are helping people by offering jobs for individuals that are looking for jobs and we need them here," said Bruce.   

But in order to reverse this nursing shortage, Parsons says the key is the administration working with their employees.

An environment that can take its toll on nurses if overworked, a change Parson says was needed. "Changing our full time work week where before full time was considered 84 hours where you worked four 12 hour shifts one week and three the other and they changed it where full time is also available for just working three 12 hours shifts a week," said Parsons.

Things like focusing more on service, listening to employees, and more in depth orientations are all factors in the UMC retention plan. 

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