As part of efforts to address the shortage of nurses and respiratory therapists, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) held a job fair on Monday.
Prior to the pandemic UMMC will have an average of 30 open nurse positions simultaneously. Over the past few years, that number has risen to more than 200.
For respiratory therapy, the hospital has 30 open positions in its adult hospital and 20 to 25 vacancies in the pediatric ward.
During the five-hour job fair, 16 applicants appeared and 11 offered on-site jobs. Everyone accepted their suggestions.
Patrice Donald, a certified nurse and clinical recruitment and retention manager for UMMC staff, said the simplified job fair process reduces the time from interview to hiring by about 42 days.
Abigail May of Madison is a recent UMMC employee. Mae will graduate from the UMMC Nursing School on May 27 and will start her new job in the neonatal intensive care unit in just three days.
Mae said her experience at UMMC, both female and male, and the center’s focus on medical research is forcing her to stay in Mississippi.
“I love helping the sickest of the sick,” Mae said. “I feel it’s definitely my calling.”
The Mississippi lost more than 2,000 nurses during the pandemic due to burnout or higher-paying jobs in other states, often among nurses. This tension is being felt across the country, and the shortage of nurses in the country is likely to worsen over time.
Older people are creating additional problems: older people are increasing the demand for health services, and reducing the number of registered registered nurses as more and more retirees leave the workforce.
New report McKinsey, an consulting firm, estimates there may be 200,000 to 450,000 fewer nurses in the United States than needed by 2025. The number of nursing school graduates entering and remaining in the workforce will need to more than double each year by 2025 to meet this requirement.
Part of the funding from the American Rescue Plans Act has been allocated to address this issue, including $ 40 million to train nurses in colleges and universities and $ 6 million to forgive student loans to nurses.
But the effects of these investments will not be felt for some time and will not yield anything to hospitals that need nurses immediately.
“It was hard to recruit to keep when there are so many travel agencies that can offer them a lot more money to leave the state … I would be lying if I said I didn’t get an email or a phone call asking what interests me “Said Gordon Gartrell, nurse manager at the UMMC Children’s Intensive Care Unit.
However, UMMC has a competitive advantage over other health care providers in the state, Gartrell said, because it is home to the state’s only children’s hospital.
Nelson Weichold, chief financial officer of UMMC, addressed the shortage of nurses during a meeting of the Higher Education Health Committee on Wednesday.
The cost of nursing increased by 14% compared to the average income from all inpatient and outpatient services provided by UMMC, according to Weichold.
Weichold also presented data from health management consulting firm Kaufman Hall & Associates, which showed a sharp increase in the national average cost of contract nurses. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, contract nurses ’wage rates were almost twice as high as for employed nurses. By March 2022, contract nurses were earning nearly four times more than part-time nurses.
Increased labor costs combined with increased material costs are “squeezing” hospitals in a way that doesn’t happen in other areas, Weichold said. Airlines and fast food companies can shift these increased costs directly to consumers the way hospitals cannot.
“This is not happening in the hospital industry because, remember, we are not charging fees from customers, we are charging insurance companies,” Weichold said. “And insurance companies are now very reluctant to raise hospital rates.”
This tension between hospitals and insurance companies has been open in Mississippi over the past few months due to Intense contract dispute of UMMC with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi, the state’s largest private insurer.
Currently, UMMC has about 3,000 nurses throughout its system, and about 100 of them work under contract. Weyhold said UMMC plans to further increase nurses’ salaries if the hospital is able to wean itself off contract nurses.
Donald said that in addition to their usual nursing responsibilities, job descriptions for nurses include the phrase “and all other assigned duties,” a supplement that helped them stay afloat during labor shortages. As needed, nurses are often moved to different departments.
“We have nurses everywhere,” said Tyler Fitzgerald, UMMC’s transplant manager. “So we did it. Sometimes it was hard and it remains hard, but we are all here for one reason. ”
During the IHL meeting, Weichold said that the behavior of contract nurses has changed recently. While many moved to work in other states at the start of the pandemic, they are now leaving work at one hospital to work under contract at another hospital in the same city. According to Weichold, most UMMC nurses who go on contract work return to the hospital within three to four months.
Fitzgerald felt this trend on his own lips.
Fitzgerald said his team lost three full-time nurses during the pandemic who recently returned to UMMC.
“We have people who leave and then come back,” Fitzgerald said. “Everyone always comes home.”