The Missouri State Board of Nursing has decided to step in and create room for more nursing students to receive an education in an effort to ease a statewide shortage of qualified nurses. They have expanded five of the state’s nursing programs, effectively adding 250 slots for future nurses, a move aimed at helping reduce nursing vacancies.
According to the Missouri Hospital Association, the nursing profession has one of the highest vacancy rates in the health sector, with 13 percent of positions unfilled in Missouri. The high vacancy and turnover rates are largely a supply issue caused by state schools having more qualified applicants tan available space.
Jill Williams, director of workforce initiatives at the Missouri Hospital Association, tellsNews.StLPublicRadio.org, “There is definitely a need. Schools say that they’re having to turn away applicants, very qualified applicants, just because they don’t have enough slots.”
Hospitals in St. Louis and the Metro East have higher vacancy rates than the rest of the state, with 18 percent of registered-nurse positions in the region unfilled in 2017.
Schools apply to the state board for permission to add school seats. More than half of the 250 new positions were approved for Cox College of Nursing locations in Springfield, Branson and Monett in southwest Missouri.
St. Louis Community College, Missouri State University, the University of Missouri – Columbia and State Fair Community College also plan to add approximately 25 seats each.
Lack of space in nursing programs is just one reason behind the profession’s high vacancy rates, experts say. Nurses are at risk of burnout from working long hours in stressful conditions. As baby boomers age out of the workforce, more nurses are needed to fill the spots they left behind. Additionally, that aging population means more nurses are needed as boomers require more medical care.
Adding more nurses to the workforce could help ease stress on existing workers, too, Williams said.
“Not only does that help the bedside nurse and gets more people into that role, it releases those demands on them, because there are more people working in that career,” she said.
More qualified nurses would also allow more experienced nurses to earn graduate degrees and become eligible to teach. Williams said it’s hard for schools to find qualified instructors. Many times, nurses with that level of experience can make much more working in the private sector.
Our Nurses of the Week are a group of 126 neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses at Mercy Children’s Hospital St. Louis in Missouri who pooled their money to buy a lottery ticket. Their story went viral last week when they won $10,000 and instead of each being about $50 richer, decided to use the money to help other Mercy coworkers who’d fallen on difficult times.
These nurses had no idea how much of an impact their purchase would make, but they knew they needed to do something generous with their winnings. They decided to present two checks to nurse Gretchen Post and neonatologist Dr. Casey Orellana. Post’s son died by suicide the month prior and Orellana’s husband was recently diagnosed with stage 4 sarcoma cancer.
Playing the lottery is a fun tradition for these nurses whose work can often be stressful. As last month’s jackpot grew to $1.6 billion, Stephanie Brinkman, the lottery pool organizer, stayed up late to watch the results come in. Soon her phone was lighting up with calls and messages from her colleagues. They had a winning ticket.
Brinkman tells ABCNews.Go.com, “We thought right away that this [money] wasn’t going to make us or break us and it was money we didn’t have before. We needed to help somebody…We have a very strong bond and I think this just goes to show that we’re always here for each other, no matter what. We hope stories like this encourage others to spread kindness and love.”
To learn more about the NICU nurses from Mercy Children’s Hospital St. Louis who donated their lottery winnings to their colleagues in need, visit here.
The University of Missouri (MU) is opening a new online program to address a shortage of nurses and nurse educators in the state of Missouri. The Sinclair School of Nursing has developed an accelerated curriculum that allows RNs to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing online in three to four years.
Judith Fitzgerald Miller, Dean of the Sinclair School of Nursing at MU, tells LakeNewsOnline.com, “We need more nurses and the educators to prepare them. Nursing schools around the country lack the faculty to keep up with the demand for degrees as it is, and that is only going to grow for the foreseeable future.”
Registered nurses and nursing faculty in Missouri have an average age of 50, which is contributing to the shortage problem. As nurse educators begin to retire, nursing schools are forced to turn away qualified applicants because they don’t have enough faculty to teach them. Their goal is grow the number of faculty at MU and at other nursing programs in the state.
MU’s accelerated RN-MSN program is supported by a grant from the Missouri State Board of Nursing and the Missouri Department of Higher Education. The grant provides scholarships for full-time and part-time students in their first year of the new program. Scholarship recipients must agree to teach in Missouri nursing programs for three years after graduating.
Heidi Lucas, director of the Missouri Nurses Association, tells LakeNewsOnline.com, “The shortage of nurses in Missouri is at an all-time high. But to graduate more nurses, our colleges and universities have to have more capacity. When programs like this produce nurse educators, nursing programs can hire more instructors. In turn, the state can educate more future nurses.”
The online RN-MSN curriculum is designed to eliminate repetitive courses, allowing students to opt out of four required undergraduate-level courses and take six graduate-level courses on similar topics instead. Students in the existing online BSN program can apply to MU Graduate Studies in the last semester of their undergraduate course work to be admitted into the master’s program, after which they will have earned a BSN and MSN in three to four years.
To learn more about MU’s accelerated online nurse educator track, visit here.
The University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL) recently transformed four of their classrooms into working parts of a disaster zone to help better prepare student and professional nurses for disasters and public health emergencies they may face over the course of their careers. The simulations were part of an innovative workshop on disaster preparedness, formed as a joint effort between UMSL, Johns Hopkins University, and Saint Louis University.
Attendees of the workshop were guided through online, interactive toolkits designed by Lavin and her colleagues to help them explore and learn from real-scenarios including 9/11, Zika, and the Flint water crisis. Then the day ended with a two-hour drill simulating a residential building fire and collapse.
Lavin tells Blogs.UMSL.edu, “Residential fires occur every day in every country. They are the most common disaster to impact an individual family. We wanted students to understand that an apartment fire in a small community with only a small hospital could indeed be a mass casualty event for that particular community.”
One room at the university was transformed into a health department, another into a hospital emergency department, a third into a field site, and a fourth into a casualty area. The purpose of the building fire simulation was to teach attendees that a disaster doesn’t have to garner national attention to be real and devastating. The workshop also focused on self and family preparedness, encouraging attendees to create a three-day, emergency “go bag” and extensive family plan in case of emergency. Nurses can’t do their jobs as effectively in a disaster without a plan for themselves and their family.
To learn more about UMSL’s disaster preparedness workshop, visit here.
The Department of Anesthesiology at Washington University’s School of Medicine emphasizes innovative education and comprehensive, personalized clinical training. Fostering an academic culture that integrates clinical care, research, and education, services provided include patient care in pre-operative evaluation, intraoperative anesthesia, post-operative critical care, and pain management.
In her role as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) at the Washington University School of Medicine, Zerlan functions as an anesthesia provider at a Level I trauma center. Her scope of practice includes preoperative, intraoperative, and post-operative anesthesia care. After beginning her career as an ICU nurse, Zerlan began serving as an anesthesia provider upon completion of her master’s degree with a sub-specialty in anesthesia. Zerlan’s education background also includes a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree from Loyola University Medical College in 2012.
Zerlan credits her success to a strong worth ethic, perseverance, and passion. To learn more about Mary Zerlan and her position on the Nursing Board for the American Health Council, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Rachel Adrian, a registered nurse (RN) from Missouri who has devoted her career to humanitarian relief work. Adrian’s career in relief work began in 2006 when she joined a Katrina relief team to help with disaster relief for thousands of people left homeless after devastating Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the US. Her relief work has since taken her around the world from her start in the US to South America, Kenya, and most recently to Iraq.
With an education background including a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from Missouri Western State University and a Master of Public Health (MPH) from Liberty University, Adrian is well qualified for her relief service. After helping the Katrina Relief Team, Adrian went on to work with Project Amazon setting up mobile health clinics throughout the Amazon basin of Brazil, work as PACU Nurse for the Mexico Surgery Caravan Clinic, and serve as a Mobile Clinic Nurse with Heart to Heart International in Haiti. Her humanitarian ventures then took her halfway across the globe as a nurse volunteer with a hospital in Kenya before continuing on to volunteer and work in Iraq.
After moving to Iraq several years ago, Adrian ended up settling into several humanitarian nursing positions. As a Health Program Administrator for Samaritans Purse, Adrian helped establish a new clinic in Iraq while also teaching English as a second language to local citizens. She also held a position as an Emergency Nurse at Oasis Hospital in the United Arab Emirates.
Adrian’s personal life recently brought her into US news after she welcomed a healthy baby boy on Feb. 2. Her husband and baby’s father is Hoger Ameen, a Kurdish man from Northern Iraq who she met three years ago after moving to Iraq for relief work. They married the following year and began making plans to move to the US to start a family. After settling down temporarily in Iraq while they applied for a spousal visa, Adrian moved back home to Missouri in July to wait for her husband. According to People.com, the couple was told in December that Ameen’s application was in the last steps of processing but after a recent executive order enacting a travel ban on citizens from seven countries including Iraq, Ameen received an email notifying him that his visa had been suspended.
The couple isn’t sure what the travel ban means for them yet, but they are hopeful that Ameen can return to the US as soon as possible to meet his newborn son. We want to show our gratitude to Rachel for her inspiring humanitarian work that has positively affected communities around the world thanks to her dedicated service as a nurse.