Journal of Nursing

Nurse Shortage Forces Hospital To Close Beds


By Marty Stempniak

A shortage of registered nurses has become so severe at one South Dakota hospital that it’s actually been forced to close hospital beds.

Rapid City Regional Hospital has 417 licensed beds, but up to 20 of them are going unused each day, due to a lack of RNs. The hospital has even resorted to using temp nurses to fill the void, Laura Wightman, R.N., chief nursing officer for the hospital’s parent health system.

"Travelers are helping us to get by at a very difficult time,” she says. “As we build our permanent team, we'll use less and less travel nurses."

Shutting down beds, Wightman says, was an “absolute last resort” to help ensure patient safety. The hospital is now working to fill the hiring hole, with Regional Health system just bringing aboard 90 new nurses at the tail end of 2015.

Assessing the landscape for nurse leader salaries

The previous iteration of the survey — released in 2013 — gathered salary data from some 4,000 nurse leaders. A couple of tidbits from the 68-page survey of nurse leaders include:

Almost one-third (31 percent) of nurse execs earn a salary of between $100,000 and $130,000. About 35 percent earn less than $100,000.

RN executives with the military, VA or government are the most likely (85 percent) to earn between $80,000 and $160,000 annually.

Nurse leaders with doctorates (38 percent) or master’s degrees (22 percent) are the most likely to earn more than $160,000.

The Top Priorities For Nurse Leaders

1. Ensure that every patient receives the known standard of care in every setting, every time.

2. Prepare for a potential nursing shortage.

3. Make early bets about reshaping your clinical workforce.

4. Seek greater consensus on the “right” way to staff a clinic.

5. Continue to control costs — but not by cutting labor.

6. Expand front-line nurses’ focus from discharge to care continuity.

The Nine Habits Of Highly Effective Nurses

1. Avoid taking shortcuts: Saving time can be beneficial, but not at the cost of completing tasks correctly.

2. Don’t rush tasks: No matter how frantic the day may seem, rushing only leads to mistakes.

3. Look for opportunities to grow: Whether you’re building new areas of expertise or taking refresher courses for what you already know — a thirst for knowledge is an invaluable trait.

4. Manage time: Being punctual and managing a packed schedule should become second nature to an effective nurse.

5. Ask for help: Being a nurse is tough, so if a helping hand is needed, don’t fret over asking for support.

6. Be focused and proactive: Meeting targets and staying on top of your workload will save you time in the long run.

7. Set goals: Setting personal targets will offer motivation and encourage good habits.

8. Be a team player: You can’t do it all on your own, so getting along with your fellow co-workers is vital to a job well-done.

9. Communicate clearly: Whether it’s frantic coworkers or distressed patients, effective communication is the best tool at your disposal.


Articles in this issue:

  • The article begins discussing the nursing shortage and the number of beds that the hospital must close due to the shortage. The next information given is pay rates for nursing execs, nursing leaders and the differences in pay between nuring leaders with a doctorate versus a masters. So is the shortage at rapid city regional hospital in the nursing exec staff? Too many indians and not enough chiefs?

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