Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Prolonging the Careers of OR Nurses as Strategy To Ease Nursing Shortage

Writing for, Scott Williams writes about searches for ways to lessen the burdens and lengthen the careers of perioperative and other nurses as one strategy for minimizing the impact of the nursing shortage. He quotes Patricia C. Seifert, RN, MSN, CNOR, CRNFA, education coordinator for the cardiovascular OR at Inova Heart and Vascular Institute in Falls Church, Va., as saying "We can’t afford to have anyone retire. . . . But at the same time, you can’t work people to death.”

Seifert, who has prepared a paper for the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) 55th Congress, suggests that hospitals that want to keep older perioperative nurses on the job need to look at ways to make their jobs physically easier and less intrusive on their personal lives, such as by finding ways for them to draw on their knowledge and experience, rather than their physical abilities. Even physical demands can be attenuated by, for example, reducing the amount of time a nurse is forced to stand or by reducing the weight of surgical instruments.

Williams also reports on other initiatives. One, a 2006 report--"Wisdom at Work: The Importance of the Older and Experienced Nurse in the Workplace"--sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which advocated flexible hours, increased benefits, newly created professional roles, better-designed hospital equipment and buildings, and an atmosphere of respect for nurses as all things that could help retain nurses longer. Another is a one-day conference titled “Coming of Age: Innovations to Support the Aging Nurse”, that was spearheaded by Ed Coakley, RN, MSN, MA, MEd, director emeritus at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, which resulted from a study in which older nurses said they hoped to work “until their backs gave out or their knees gave out or as long as they were able to physically work,” Coakley says.

Source: "Bright Ideas for Retaining Aging OR Nurses" (January 30, 2008)

Additional Resources: Hodes Research "The 2006
Aging Nursing Workforce Survey"
; Talent Matters "Workforce Planning for Health Care" (January/February 2008)

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