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Nursing Shortage: Need Recruitment and Retention of Public Health Nurses

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, October 4th, 2012

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) reports a severe nursing shortage of public health nurses, a problem affecting in many states.

Georgia’s population has grown by one and a half million in the last ten years, but the public health nursing workforce has shrunk, according to the report. In the past eight years, Georgia has lost an estimated 392 public health nurses, about 22 percent, due to high turnover rates, lack of funding and non-competitive salaries.

Georgia currently has 1,400 public health nurses, and nearly 20 percent of their nurse positions are vacant. Most public health districts have a hard time recruiting and retaining nurses.

One reason for the high turnover is DPH’s inability to fill the vacancies left by retiring nurses. The low, non-competitive salary keeps qualified nurses from applying.

They are losing a lot of seasoned public health nurses, and recent graduates and inexperienced nurses are applying for the open positions, due to low salaries offered. Yet, public health nurses need experience to know how to handle the different situations that come up daily. This is particularly important since registered nurses in public health often diagnose and treat patients without a physician, an element unique to their field.

It takes a great deal of time and money to train new recruits to work independently and this training makes public health nurses competitive for private sector jobs. Many times, after at least nine months of on-the-job training, recent hires leave for less stressful and higher paying jobs – further fueling the high turnover rate.

How can we recruit and retain more nurses in public health? What are you doing to address the nursing shortage?

As a nurse speaker, I specialize in nurse recruitment, nurse retention, and work life balance and can help improve morale, retention and recruitment. CONTACT ME TODAY to talk about my powerful keynotes, workshops and programs. I look forward to helping your organization achieve its goals.

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