General Nursing, Nursing Staff Development

We Need More Nurses

January 1987

Since the nursing shortage continues to grow, the leadership of the large hospital where I work had a brainstorming session last fall. They decided Staff Development should design and teach a refresher course for nurses who have been out of hospital nursing for over five years. The goal is to give the interns review classes in a variety of specialty areas and let them work with a preceptor for 4 months. The hospital will pay them a slightly reduced salary during the refresher course, and then offer them a job at the end of satisfactory course completion. In turn, the nurse must commit to working for the hospital for two years after the refresher course.

To my delight, my Director asked me to design and conduct the course. In turn, she relieved me of all my other duties. I barely knew where to start because I could not locate any other hospitals that taught a refresher course. So I held a meeting of all the staff development nurses and gathered their ideas for classes. I made a class schedule and arranged for various nurse specialists to teach their areas of expertise. Next, I took the proposed class schedule and gathered ideas from the nurse managers of the medical-surgical units. We tweaked it again and printed the final schedule.

In November, I met with human resources to design an advertisement for the newspaper to run over the next four weeks. They also helped me design interview questions to ask each candidate. As the applications arrived, I reviewed them to choose the top thirty candidates to interview for the nineteen openings. I interviewed all thirty nurses in three days. This was my first time asking the interview questions rather than giving the answers. My heart went out to the ones who were so nervous they could barely talk.

After I completed the interviews, I chose the nineteen who I thought would most likely become enthusiastic long-term nurses for the hospital. Most of the women had taken time off to raise their children and were now eager to return to the workforce to help put their children through college. We had several younger ones apply who graduated from two-year associate degree programs and felt they needed a longer slower paced orientation to hospital nursing.

The First Week

Nurse interns of refresher course met in class daily
Nurse interns of the refresher course met in class daily

Overwhelmed this week with the interns starting, I asked God to carry me through each long ten-hour day. In the midst of my exhaustion, I keep looking to God for serving grace.

“And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you; for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, (limitations) that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV).

February 25, 1987

Three of my problem interns resigned after they decided they couldn’t handle all the changes in hospital nursing. One 50-year-old intern came to work intoxicated from alcohol so we had to terminate her that day. I was sad to see alcohol ruin her life. I pray she will receive Christ as her Savior and be set free from her addiction.

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1 NKJV).

When I graduated in 1977, there was a surplus of nurses, followed by a shortage the next year. The first hospital where I worked imported nurses from South Africa and Canada to solve their staffing problem.

I am happy to report the 1987 graduating interns of this refresher program became excellent employees.

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