Nurse Jobs in California Hurting from Recession - CINH Brings Relief

Nursing school graduates face a sparse job market in California despite projections for a massive nursing shortage in the state.

Before the recession brand new nurses could find jobs wherever they wanted in California even in tough job markets like the Bay area.

Back in 2004 state labor affairs officials estimated that California would need at least 9,000 new nurses a year.

But over the past 18 months thousands of graduating nurses have found it almost impossible to land a job.

Many hospitals have set hiring freezes and closed down clinical services. In addition, a lot of nurses that were expected to retire have not chosen to do so. Many have decided that because of the recession they were no longer in a financial position to retire, or perhaps their spouse lost a job and they needed to remain employed.

So a lot of reasons are related to the economy is why we have this temporary lift is what we still believe is a long term shortage of nurses.

Most economists agree that as soon as the economy turns around nurses will again begin retiring and there will be jobs for all of this year's 10,000+ graduates and many more.

In the meantime though, professionals in the healthcare field are taking action to keep trained nurses in California by either encouraging continuing education with an RN to MSN degree or by offering hands-on clinical training so they can compete with experienced nurses for roles that do open up.

Deloras Jones, president and executive director of the California Institute for Nursing & Health Care worries that this economic blip could threaten statewide efforts to build a stable long term nursing workforce. "We're concerned about nurses leaving, going to other states definitely or worse, leaving nursing altogether and going into some other field. The longer they're away from school they are at greater risk of losing what they have learned and that's why it would make it more difficult for them to be employed."

Relief for New RN's looking for work
Even where there are jobs available, hospitals would rather hire an experienced nurse over a new graduate.

New RN's can't expect to immediately graduate and go onto the floor and handle very complex medical patients. There needs to be an opportunity for those nurses to be mentored by experienced nurses and give them time to really get their clinical expertise up to a level that many hospitals need.

Graduates must also learn to be open to job opportunities outside of their first choice markets and might consider getting jobs out of state.

To help nurses wade through the recession, the California Institute for Nursing & Health Care is sponsoring community based programs that give new grads an opportunity to work in the field and pick up some of the skills they would normally get in an entry level nursing job. One of those new programs is a partnership between Kaiser Permanente in Northern California and Samuel Merritt University in Oakland.

Graduating students who pass their RN exams are placed with nurse precepts and Kaiser hospitals. This program is offering them a structured clinical practice environment which includes classes and also time in a clinical setting so they can gain a deeper understanding of the healthcare environment in which nurses work.
The free 15 week program is the first of its kind in the nation. It expects to turn out 250 trainees this year and the CINH hopes to get funding to train another 1300 nurses.

Now is the time for continuing education
Some nursing schools are encouraging graduates to ride out the recession by continuing their education. UC-San Francisco School of Nursing as a 1-year RN program, but many students are opting to stay on.

Said Dean Kathleen Dracup, "About half our graduates used to leave an work for a couple of years as a nurse just to get that experience and then come back for their masters, and now they’re all just going straight through. With the idea that by the time they get their masters which is a two to three year program, then they will be ready."

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