Nursing shortage impacts Florida hospitals

Posted at 11:39 PM, Feb 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-09 23:39:50-05

Ask any nurse, and the motivation is the same.

“I really wanted to help people in a tangible way, that I could see a difference,” says Annelise Evans, a nurse at Jupiter Medical Center.

Evans admits being a nurse is rewarding, but can be taxing.

“It's hard work, especially at a hospital. You have to deal all sorts of things.”

The newest thing on that list – a nursing shortage across the state.

“I've been in nursing a long time, we have cycles how this happens,” says Steve Seeley, chief nursing officer at Jupiter Medical. “This one's come on kind of quickly.”

Seeley says several factors are likely to blame for this most recent shortage – from nurses retiring or re-locating, to the improving economy.

“Their spouses lose their job when the economy is bad, and tend to go back into the workforce a little bit more, to gain benefits,” Seeley says. “The economy becomes good, and that all shifts the other way, and the nurses can back off and spend more time with their families.”

The Florida Center for Nursing says in hospitals alone, the number of registered nurse vacancies has increased by almost 3,400 since 2013.

In total, there are more than 12,000 openings statewide.

Adding to that concern, almost 10,000 nursing positions are expected to be created this year.

“I know the other floors in the hospital are having a tough time filling in several positions,” Evans says.

In the long run, it could impact the quality of care you receive at hospitals across the state.

“We all need the registered nurses, so everyone is fighting for that same limited pool of people,” Seeley says.

Jupiter Medical Center is trying to get a leg up on that fight.

Aside from incentives, the hospital created a nurse residency program for new graduates.

The goal is to get new nurses, keep them, and let them work in different areas of the hospital.

“Why not give people those experiences within your organization, because I think that helps build some loyalty to your organization,” Seeley says.

It’s working for Jupiter Medical, where the vacancy rate has dropped to 10%.

Shortage or no shortage, Annelise says she will continue to do what she knows best.

"[The patients] sometimes feel like no one is there for them. They really appreciate every single thing you do.”