Hospitals in the Tallahassee area, including Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare and Capital Regional Medical Center, are facing staffing issues due to a shortage of registered nurses available to work. The poor employment numbers can be attributed to multiple factors, including a large wave of older nurses retiring, insufficient education opportunities in the area, and labor poaching by nearby hospitals in Orlando.
Roughly one third of the area’s hospital staff is represented by registered nurses, but managers are struggling to schedule their staff efficiently. Even if just one nurse calls out, hospital operations can be drastically slowed as other nurses have to take on more responsibilities.
Nursing shortages are not a new problem, and they tend to be cyclical. However, a mixture of new and old problems is facing the Tallahassee area. Nursing programs in Florida, such as FSU’s College of Nursing, are only able to admit a certain number of students per year due to limited faculty and clinical space. On top of that, high demand for nurses all over the country provides near limitless options for graduates.
Orlando is also a hub for prospective nurses, with its 650-acre health and life sciences park called Lake Nona Medical City. Inside this park, the Orlando VA Medical Center is currently under construction and is reportedly expecting to hire nearly 700 registered nurses. Even though Orlando is 260 miles away from Tallahassee, local experts believe their labor pool is already being poached.
In an effort to attract more registered nurses to the area, hospitals are beginning to offer gainful incentives like tuition reimbursement and a $5,000 sign-on bonus. Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare also started a residency program in 2013 that requires participants to sign a two-year employment contract that takes effect upon completion of the residency. Retaining new nurses will be essential for these hospitals as nearly 45 percent of the workforce are over the age of 51 and are expected to phase out of their careers within the next 5 to 10 years.