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Nursing shortage isn’t new and is a national trend that isn’t ending soon…

Posted on: March 4th, 2018

In a recent edition of the Valdosta Daily Times, it was reported that SGMC needs more nurses. While this statement is true, the tone of the article implied the nursing shortage is a new problem at SGMC and reflective of current leadership. I want to take the opportunity to clarify this. The nursing shortage is an ongoing nationwide problem. It is not the result of current nursing leadership. The Times article has caused quite a stir with members of our team. The internal feedback we are receiving is that our nurses, and others, are disappointed with the article because it doesn’t represent the caliber and quality of our current nursing staff. The nursing staff at SGMC is extremely dedicated and works with the sickest of the sick. There are many members of the nursing staff who have been providing bedside care at SGMC for two, three even four decades. These experienced and knowledgeable nurses are the backbone of our team. And our team is expanding.  A major factor impacting our need for new nurses is that our health system is growing. We are adding new physicians’ practices and service lines to an already lengthy list of services and programs. This coupled with the industry concern over the approaching retirements of seasoned professionals with 35 and more years of experience has SGMC considering multiple options for retaining and attracting the best nursing talent in our region.  While bonuses are not off the table, we see an incentive program that rewards nurses across the board as a preferred option. Our goal is to compensate all nurses fairly, based on their years of service and expertise. Meanwhile, we are hosting recruitment fairs and events to inform local senior-level nursing students that SGMC is a great place to begin their nursing careers.  Nurses have limitless opportunities for change and professional growth. Some nurses will choose to return to higher education after meeting the two-year bedside requirement needed to enter Master’s programs for nursing, nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners and other advanced programs. SGMC commends those who choose to further their knowledge and skill-sets in the ever evolving world of medical care while recognizing that the positions left behind will again need a replacement. This on-going process isn’t a local negative situation, instead it represents the dynamic state of our national healthcare scene.At SGMC, we currently have 85 vacant nursing positions that are being filled by travel nurses. That is roughly 10 percent of our nursing workforce of 850. Since 2014, SGMC has had approximately 100 nursing vacancies annually. The Georgia Association of Nurses reports on its website that a “critical shortage of registered nurses is looming with statistics showing a potential shortage of 50,000 registered nurses in Georgia by 2030.” Several factors, including the aging population with more medical and health needs, and an aging nursing workforce, are driving this shortage.SGMC takes the nursing shortage very seriously and we are working with Valdosta State University, Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, North Florida Community College and many other nursing organizations to develop programs and incentives to attract and retain nursing talent. SGMC offers flexible shifts and excellent benefits. We offer daycare with extended hours, competitive wages and a comfortable environment with some of the latest healthcare technology. We may need more nurses, but we love and appreciate the ones we have! Thank you for your commitment and caring!C. Ross BerryChief Executive Officer