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Attracting and Retaining Nurses in the Midst of a Nationwide

Attracting and Retaining Nurses in the Midst of a Nationwide Shortage
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Nurses Gwen Richinson, Sandra Williams, VA Community Living Center
Courtesy:Sonny Mont.VA Medical Ctr

Mississippi is in the midst of a nursing shortage that mirrors what's happening across the country. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.

Hospitals in Mississippi are working to attract and retain nurses. It's an issue facing the nation according to Eva Santoyo, a nurse and administrator at the Sonny Montgomery VA Medical Center. She says nursing shortages occur in cycles and this one was predicted in 1980. Santoyo says more nurses are retiring than are entering nursing school. She held a job fair over the weekend looking to recruit 34.

"I'm looking for someone who is going to take pride in taking care of our nation's heroes, someone who is dedicated to the nursing field, someone who wants to grow possibly," said Santoyo.

Another nationwide issue is nurses bullying other nurses. Santoyo says in the past they've lost nurses over the problem. Bullying occurs when experienced nurses lack the patience to help new nurses or as Dean Libby Mahaffey says, make caustic remarks and rolls their eyes at them. Mahaffey heads the Nursing and Allied Health Department at Hinds Community College. She says they teach civility, provide a statement about it and help students learn how to handle those situations.

"It is unfortunate that some of our graduates get out there and experience that and I think that is one reason for turnover," said Mahaffey.

Eva Santoyo at the VA medical center says they sought help from the National Center for Organizational Development to address bullying. She says they're seeing improvement. Santoyo says salaries differ but for a new nurse with no experience they could start at about $50,000 per year, along with five weeks vacation, 13 paid federal holidays, sick days and bonuses based on performance.