Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Nursing Shortage Has Solutions

Over the weekend the University of Louisville and Owensboro Medical health System in Kentucky announced a collaborative effort to train an additional 40 nurses a year, utilizing distance education.

Last week, we got a phone call in our office from a guy who wants to become a nurse - badly. He says he was one of over 600 people applying to a local nursing school that had 24 openings. And the nursing shortage is near crisis level.

There's simply no rational reason for such a dramatic restriction in the admission to nursing programs, especially today with elearning options.

In the online nursing assistant program we launched July 1, we've had over 150 applicants with minimal publicity. Many of these individuals are anxious to take the first step in their nursing career with this program - and many of them need the flexibility and accessibility that elearning offers.

It's time to blow the doors off the classroom and begin training enough individuals to become nurses that we make a significant difference in the shortage of trained professionals - from the nursing assistant and caregiver level all the way through to the graduate nurse level.

We have the skills. We have the technology. We simply need the focus and the dedication of resources and we can solve this problem today and for the future needs in our country.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Moving Home - the continuing journey

Many of you have been following my family's journey with our two sets of elderly parents. My mom's squared away in a perfect retirement village, happy and traveling with new companions following the loss of my father.

It's my in-laws that have been challenging the family lately. They have been reluctant to give up the home where they have lived for the past 55+ years. However, with their mobility diminishing (neither drive much anymore), loss of friends, neighbors and their social circle, and home repairs and maintenance that are simply too tough for them to handle any longer, the time has come for them to make a change.

Fortunately, my sister-in-law determined to make it her mission to convince them to move. She toured retirement communities with them until they located one very close to their home that they really like.

Three weeks ago, we all met at the retirement community for lunch and a tour. Walking through, we all commented on how much they will be gaining by this move - not giving up. They finally agreed, too.

The following weekend they put their home on the market. My mother-in-law threw a fit when the "for sale" sign went up on the lawn (she didn't want a sign), but a few days later a young couple, renting in the neighborhood, walked by and saw the sign. The papers have been signed and, even in this very slow market, the house sold in a matter of days.

Last week the in-laws went to a Hawaiian luau at their new community. They came home happy about the decision they've made, and really looking forward to the move.

Whew! It's been quite a journey for us all. Our one goal: to see the folks more active and more involved with others. In short, to see them happy again. They are both very social people by nature. My mother-in-law had at least 3 social groups she belonged to for more than 60 years - one composed of the other mothers whom she met in the hospital giving birth to my husband! One by one, her group members have died or moved away. My father-in-law loved to golf, go to the beach, and play cards. Over the past few years, their circle has gradually shrunk to their living room, with only each other for companionship.

They, as so many others today, have been blessed with a long life. My father-in-law is 96; my mother-in-law close behind. Living fully, right to the end of life, can mean tough choices and tough decisions.

But in the end, living fully, all the way to the end, is the difference between just existing, and truly gaining the richness and joy that life has to offer.