Nursing jobs are in short supply in Riverside

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By Greg McGee / Special to Viewpoints

Practice makes perfect (Edward Diaz / Asst. Photo Editor )

By Greg McGee / Special to Viewpoints

Is there a nursing shortage?

While the answer to this simple question may be yes on a national level, in Southern California the reality is quite different.

Alice Telezinski, recruiter for Riverside Community Hospital, said that there is a “shortage in experience,” not one in licensed nurses. Telezinski receives an average of 75 applications for every nursing job opening.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook for nursing employment is “expected to grow more slowly in hospitals—health care’s largest industry—than in most other health care industries.”

Riverside City College’s current construction of a new Nursing/Science building raises the question—where are the shortages and opportunities for new graduate nurses?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting that there will be 581,500 new nursing jobs in the nation by 2018, representing a 22 percent increase from 2008.

The highest percentage increases are expected in physicians’ offices, at 48 percent; home health care services at 33 percent and nursing care facilities at 25 percent.

Sandy Baker, dean of RCC’s School of Nursing, said that although the new building will permit the school to expand the number of new nursing students in the future, there is an immediate need to add courses now, for several new programs.

“The additional space will allow us to add continuing education courses that RNs are required to take annually,” Baker said.

Baker also said that these courses will not only fulfill the needs of the local community but will also bring in funds to contribute to the school’s nursing program.

Another first-time offering will be the Transition to Practice course. This course will allow graduated students who have not found employment yet to get an extra 12 weeks of experience in the hospital setting.

Baker said that this course was made possible in part by a $10,000 grant from the Health Workforce Initiative, which will pay for the program’s instructor.

Another option for new graduates is to continue their education, pursuing their bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Richard Gutierrez and Raymond Bautista, two second-semester nursing students at RCC, said that they are being told to go for the bachelor’s right away.

Baker said that there is a nationwide movement for the Bachelor of Science in nursing, with some calling for at least 80 percent of nurses to be at the bachelor’s level.

“This is not feasible in California,” Baker said. “Seventy percent of the nurses in this state have an associate’s degree.”

RCC’s School of Nursing has been working with Cal State Fullerton since 2002, offering classes at RCC that count toward the bachelor’s degree at CSUF.

“We are currently working on a new program to streamline this process,” Baker said.

The new program will offer concurrent enrollment at both schools, eliminate redundant courses, offer classes taught at RCC, by both RCC and CSUF instructors, as well as online CSUF courses.

Baker said that this will allow students to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as one year after completing the RN program.

There are several other factors involved in a new graduate landing a job. Telezinski said interviews are a very important factor.

“You would be surprised by how many people come in wearing blue jeans,” Telezinski said.

Telezinski said that it’s not enough to be professional in the interview. It is also the follow up. She said applicants should send a thank you note or e-mail and be persistent.

Another point that Telezinski brings up is that most new graduates want to work in the emergency department or intensive care unit. She said that nurses need to spend more time in areas like medical/surgical.

“You need a good base,” Telezinski said. “You have to develop your critical thinking skills.”

While the local job market is expected to remain very competitive, RCC’s nursing students have multiple options available to them, with high growth rates expected in several industry segments and the various new programs planned to be offered by the school.

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