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Columbia Business Monthly

Stop the Bleeding

Aug 02, 2018 02:24PM ● By Emily Stevenson
By D'Michelle P. "Doc" DuPre, M.D.

The nursing shortage is one of the top health care concerns across the country, and South Carolina is right in the middle.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the fastest-growing major is health care. “Since 2005, the number of students who majored in health-related fields like nursing increased by 168 percent,” NCES reported.

Despite this increase, there is a shortage of nurses.

The question is, why? Where is the disconnect?

There isn’t one simple answer.

Let’s look at four factors that are relevant in South Carolina and nationwide:

A shortage of preceptors and faculty. One nursing instructor can manage only eight students on a rotation. Nurses with advanced practice degrees can make more money practicing than teaching.

Lack of clinical sites. Even with the number of hospitals and outpatient facilities, there is a shortage of clinical site availability.

Lack of space for training. Facilities are at capacity with little funds to expand.

High turnover rates. Many nurses leave the profession within three years after entering the field.

According to a recent survey by American Nurse Today, “Nearly 30 percent of new nurses leave in the first year of practice and as much as 57 percent in the second year. At a cost of $82,000 or more per nurse, NGN [new graduate nurse] attrition is costly in economic and professional terms—and can negatively impact patient-care quality.”

Research indicated that heavy workloads, an inability to ensure patient safety, disillusionment about scheduling, lack of autonomous practice, and dissatisfying relationships with peers, managers, and interprofessional colleagues were some of the reasons cited.

American Nurse Today also noted that “only 10 percent of nurse executives believed that NGNs were fully prepared to practice safely and effectively.”

Furthermore, NGNs agreed that they lack confidence and adequate skills for up to a year after graduation.

What can be done to increase the chance of success for students and employers?

Businesses and industries have made great strides in the way they do business. Admittedly, it was a forced necessity. Education must do the same.

Long gone are the times when students seek an education for education’s sake. Pragmatic and practical are the buzzwords today. Students want a meaningful and relevant education and employers want results and new employees with viable skills.
Educators and business have an unprecedented opportunity to meet student and workforce needs, not just in the health care field but in virtually every industry. The education and training of health care and other professionals must be made relevant in today’s environment.

How can colleges and universities meet these needs? How can employers get what they want? The answer is simply stated, but not simply implemented. Perhaps thinking a bit outside the box is needed to accelerate the process.

It is incumbent upon educators to meet the changes and challenges of today’s educational and work environment. There are many options and opportunities.

A key component will be to meet the demands of the workplace with intelligent, qualified candidates who have the skills necessary for the job.

Although many larger corporations have workforce development departments that are charged with the task of improving their workforce through training and education programs specific to the company goals, educational institutions can expand this process through business and industry partnerships, articulation agreements, consortiums, educational institutions, and the community.

Why not hold classes at the employer’s location and combine on-the-job training with an internship and provide college credit?

The employer wins because they get a potential employee who has learned in their environment and learned their processes; onboarding time and orientation or residencies can be shortened. They know the student’s work ethic and abilities.

The student wins because they are comfortable in this work environment. They know the processes and feel comfortable in the organization. The structure is similar to a Nursing Diploma program but with a BSN degree. It’s a winning combination for students, business, and educational facilities.

Dr. D'Michelle P. "Doc" Duper, M.D. is the Program Chair of the Master of Arts in Criminal Justice and the Program Chair of the BSN Nursing Programs at Columbia College. She has been a forensic consultant for CNN, and had written two field guides for law enforcement. In her "spare time" Dupre writes mystery novels and cookbooks, and she is a certified chef.  This article is first in a series of meeting changes and challenges in education.