Sutter Health Tackles Nursing Shortage
Not-for-Profit System On Pace for 35% Increase in RN Hires Over Two Years. Credits Comprehensive Recruitment and Retention Efforts
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 24, 2003 — In the midst of a chronic national shortage of nurses, Sutter Health has made great strides in recruiting qualified nurses throughout its not-for-profit network of community-based hospitals and physician organizations. Following the first half of 2003, Sutter Health and its affiliates are on track to increase registered nurse (RN) hires by 35 percent over 2001. The network increased RN hires by 18 percent over the same period just one year ago in 2002.
In 2001, affiliates throughout the Sutter network report hiring approximately 1,300 new registered nurses. Through the first half of this year (Q1&Q2), Sutter already has hired 920 new RNs. At the same time, Sutter reports that systemwide RN retention rates are better than the statewide average. This means that good portions of the RN new hires are filling vacant positions. Sutter Health credits these recruitment and retention gains to a comprehensive, systemwide strategy that involves expanding education and training programs, improving salaries and benefits, and making a multi-million-dollar investment in patient safety technologies that help nurses do their jobs.
"Across our network, we're helping to educate tomorrow's nurses, investing in today's workforce and employing high-tech tools that support our nurses in the care they provide," said Sutter Health President and CEO Van R. Johnson. "We're listening to our nurses and choosing to tackle the very real shortage through creative solutions that focus on what they really want from us. Clearly, these commitments are paying off for us and the communities we serve."
Sutter's education and training investments include more than $2 million in annual nursing scholarships as well as $13 million in educational partnerships with local colleges to expand classrooms and help ease impacted college programs.
Sutter and its affiliated hospitals and physician organizations also employ nearly two dozen specialists focused on recruiting health care professionals, including nine newly hired full-time nurse recruitment specialists brought on in the last two years. The network and its affiliates provide nurses with compensation and benefit enhancements that reward longevity, have committed to ongoing career presentations to school-age children, and are sponsoring strategic advertising campaigns to help attract the very best employees.
Just as important, Sutter Health is leading the country with a $50 million investment in the high-tech tools nurses want to help ensure safer medication delivery and improve patient outcomes in critical care units. And over the next decade, Sutter Health will spend at least $3.5 billion to upgrade or replace aging hospitals as well as construct much-needed physician care centers.
"We feel very proud to be part of an organization that invests in the technology and facilities we need to continually improve our skills and enhance the care we provide," said Carol Loffredi, R.N., critical care nurse at Sutter-affiliated California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. "Sutter is not just making it better for our patients; they're making it better for the nurses too."
Despite these gains in nurse recruitment, Sutter officials acknowledge that much more needs to be done to meet the state's new nurse-staffing requirements and to address the nationwide shortage of nurses. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projects a nationwide shortage of more than 800,000 nurses by the year 2020. Sutter Health and its affiliates are working with community and educational partners to change the statistic and make a positive difference.
Sutter Health is one of the nation's leading not-for-profit networks of community-based health care providers, delivering high-quality care in more than 100 Northern California communities. It is also the regional leader in infant deliveries, neonatology, orthopedics and pediatrics services. Sutter Health supports more than two dozen locally governed acute care hospitals as well as physician organizations; medical research facilities; regionwide home health, hospice and occupational health networks; and long-term care centers.