Hospital works to hire, retain nurses
By William F. West
Staff Writer, Rocky Mount Telegram
An official at Nash UNC Health Care recently said that working at a local community hospital, it should come as no surprise one of the biggest recruitment challenges is securing bedside nurses.
Katie Davison, vice president of human resources at the hospital, was one of a group of speakers at a recent summit led by the Strategic Twin-Counties Education Partnership.
Davison told the STEP gathering a Georgetown University study has indicated by 2025 North Carolina will be the second highest state in the nation with a shortage of nurses, with a projected deficit near 13,000.
Davison said some of the contributing driving factors include an aging nursing workforce; the position involving quite physical, 12-hour shifts; and an increase in demand for advanced practice providers.
“So it’s pulling more and more nurses away from the bedside,” Davison said.
Additionally, Davison noted Nash UNC Health Care faces a unique challenge of being in a rural area because there is an aging population yet at the same time decreasing reimbursements.
She said Nash UNC Health Care is looking at long-term planning and has put in place a scholars program in partnership with Nash Community College and Edgecombe Community College.
“We’ve taken a multi-faceted approach,” she said. “So what we’re doing is partnering with the community colleges to get in with nursing students, from Day One of being accepted into the program, to fully fund their nursing education.”
She said part of the program involves them coming to the hospital and participating in quarterly socialization and mentoring activities.
“It’s our aim to retain from Day One,” she said.
“So we celebrate them coming to Nash from that first day with a signing day event” to welcome them to the team much the same way colleges and universities do when they sign top high school athletes, she said.
The Nash UNC Health Care program has been in place for about two years.
“One of the things that’s a win-win is that we do have a work back commitment,” Davison said. “So any of these students who accept a fully funded scholarship from the hospital will then be committed to work at the hospital full time for a period of two to three years.”
As a result, Davison said, this helps with staffing stabilization and retention.
Davison told the STEP gathering Nash UNC Health Care is welcoming 11 scholars and plans to have 10, possibly more, projected to start in 2020.
“And our ultimate goal is to have 15 from each school, for having 30 new nurses coming into our organization, with a three-year work commitment every single year,” she said.
She made clear Nash UNC Health Care wants to have a goal of partnering with Nash Community College and Edgecombe Community College to help expand the education in the nursing program.
“We are extremely fortunate in this area to have the caliber of nurses that come out of our community colleges,” she said. “And one of the things that we hear every year is that they have qualified students that they have to turn away because they simply do not have the capacity when it comes to nursing education.”
One idea, she said, is to work with clinical educators at the hospital to help loan them out to the community colleges once or twice a week so they can help teach the new nursing students and hopefully expand capacity.
“The more nursing students we can have graduate that are local that we can partner with and get them to come work at their local community hospital, the better,” she said.
The STEP gathering was held on Aug. 1 at Nash Community College.
STEP seeks to facilitate a workforce talent pipeline by creating and supporting initiatives about career awareness and career preparedness. A focus is on what the jobs are and what the credentials and skill sets are for them.