The University of Michigan Health System hired 94 nurses in the last 59 days, nearing its goal of recruiting 100 nurses in 100 days.

In response to a nation-wide nurse shortage, the UMHS nurse recruitment program advertises on the radio and billboards, offers refresher courses and internships, and, among other things, holds career-building seminars in conjunction with the University Student Nurses Association.

“I have every expectation that we will meet and exceed our 100 nurses goal,” said Carrie Dawson, manager of nursing recruitment for UMHS. “We have already hired 94 nurses and this is not even peak hiring season. One hundred nurses is the marker for success, but we do not plan to stop hiring after it has been realized.” Dawson expects hiring 100 recent graduates and experienced nurses by Dec. 15 will help UHMS grow and succeed.

“(UHMS) has been successful overall as a system and we are positioning ourselves for future growth,” Dawson said. “We are opening positions in preparation for that growth. We are a large health system with a relatively low turnover rate so we have less of a problem than the average national health system does.

“Both new and experienced nurses are being hired,” Dawson said. “The patients we see in the health system are very complex, it would be unfair to them to staff a unit with all new nurses. Managers look for a mix of new nurses and experienced ones when staffing their units.”

With more than 126,000 unfilled nursing positions, the Association of Academic Health center notified all American health systems of the shortage. There are many reasons for the nursing shortage and it is too complicated to be explained with a simple set of reasons, said Carol Loveland-Cherry, associate dean of the School of Nursing.

“Nursing has traditionally been a profession of women and there are now more opportunities for women in other disciplines and many are trying them,” Loveland-Cherry said. “Another important factor is that health care is more complex and the job is more demanding than it used to be – we have a decreased supply and a greater demand. Also, a large portion of the nursing population is aging and retiring.” UMHS oversees many programs to actively train and recruit nurses.

“We offer a variety of ways for people to get into the profession,” Dawson said. “People who leave nursing to raise a family can reenter the profession through refresher courses. We also offer internships that allow nurses to specialize and to strengthen their clinical skills. We started a new initiative this year – we now present at the student nurses association meetings; we hold informal seminars on interview skills, resume building, the transition into the work force – topics graduating nurses are going to be dealing with.”

Combatting the nation-wide nurse shortage is essential to providing safe patient care, Loveland-Cherry said.”In order to provide safe care for patients, units must be well staffed with qualified nurses,” Loveland-Cherry said. “Too few nurses lead to increased morbidity and mortality. The environment is not good for nurses right now. Low staffing patterns puts stress on nurses that can result in negative consequences for the patients and for the nurses themselves.”

Loveland-Cherry said there are now two shortages: one of staff nurses and one of nursing faculty. “The bulk of nurses are in patient-care settings, which may help the patient-care settings, but without faculty to prepare nurses, we won’t have nurses and without nurses, we will have decreased patient care.” Nursing students are encouraged to follow their interests rather than enter hospital units or academic offices.

“We encourage nurses to enter patient settings and academia, depending on their interests,” Loveland-Cherry said. “Some nurses work with patients and then shift to academia later in their careers. Their talents are needed on both sides of the field.” In an effort to bolster their enrollments and fill the nursing ranks, the School of Nursing began a program of intense recruitment.

“We work independently and with the health system to create a program of intense recruitment,” Loveland-Cherry said.

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