Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nursing shortages in the US – creating jobs that have long term positive effects

I’m in the education business – but I’m also in the business of improving the quality of care we provide seniors and others in our society.

Today, I found myself arguing on the side of less training – maybe for the first time ever. A proposal came to my attention to increase the hours of nursing assistant training before certification. On the surface, I can say, “Yeah; more work for me!”

Inside I know that more hours of training isn’t what we need right now. What we truly need now is a clear, barrier free path to help individuals who want to enter caregiving and health care do so. Our training programs are already strong and robust. It’s getting people into the programs that’s the problem.

While we’re in the middle of a nursing shortage that is fast becoming a crisis, we’re discussing barriers to getting individuals trained.

One area college has a 7 year waiting list for individuals to get into their nursing assistant training program.

One group of individuals – all straight “A” students – applied to every nursing school in the area, only to be rejected by all.

As most problems go, this one has neither a simple explanation nor a simple answer. Getting more students into the front door requires getting more people out the top end of the career ladder; in short, more individuals trained and qualify to teach those wanting to get started.

We can effectively train more people using the instructors we currently have if we’ll start tapping into technology. Even using minimal online course components can reduce the hours of instructor time needed overall, freeing up those individuals to teach hands’ on elements of care. Many students today prefer to look up information they need on the internet, and have gained great proficiency at learning what they want, when they want it using technology.

There’s a fabulous video on that spells out, in stunning clarity, the changes we have faced in the world of technology and learning in the past 10 years. It’s called Shift Happened: Educational (Technology) Reform. If you haven’t watched it, take a minute to do so today.

Albert Einstein is quoted in the video as saying, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” It’s time for health care education and training to catch up; to use technology wisely and well to build the workforce for the future.

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