Nurse recruiters across the Denver metro area are teaming up to fight staffing shortages and the continuing education crisis in the nursing industry.
The Denver Area Health Care Recruiters Association, known as DAHCRA, holds regular meetings every other month to discuss problems and share useful information.
The group is a unique collaboration of professionals who are competing with each other in certain respects. New President Deana Gallegos, of the Denver VA Medical Center, stressed that association members are always respectful of organizational privacy and share only what is appropriate.
"Things get done a lot better when we have collaborative effort versus competitive effort," Gallegos said. "I love the makeup of the group, because I can call up another recruiter, and if she can help me out, she will."
In addition to regular staffing issues, the group is pooling its resources to tackle the ongoing shortage of teachers and clinical educational sites.
"Our initial goal was to assist with a faculty career fair, similar to a job fair, except have the schools of nursing be represented. That way individuals who are interested in a teaching position – and there’s different levels of teaching and different types of teaching – they can go to this faculty career fair and get information from all the schools, in terms of what teaching positions are available," Gallegos explained.
DAHCRA planned to survey area schools and issue a report in March 2004 providing a picture of what schools’ faculty and facility needs are.
"If the survey indicates this is something we need to do, we’ll work to really mobilize what we do well and assist the schools of nursing in getting the faculty they need," Gallegos said.
"We’ll use our gifts and our skill levels to assist them because they’re focused on day to day operations – getting schedules, how do we move students, how do we develop competencies, how do we test competencies, what clinical sites are they going to be at and what are the requirements of the clinical sites?" she said.
Gallegos believes that there aren’t enough teachers to support the number of interested nursing students, but equally problematic is the lack of available clinical sites. Leaders need to come up with creative solutions for that aspect of the shortage as well, she said.
"I think all the forces need to pull together to work on this, whether it be the hospital association, the nurse educators, higher ed. They all need to get on board with this because it’s a social problem. I think it’s very much a social problem. Unless we address it now, we’re in for some very difficult times."
"It’s okay to throw finances at it, but watch where you throw them," Gallegos said. "I would say you need to be prudent and use some wisdom as to where you put your financial resources. And what I mean by that is, for example, ‘Why spend $15,000 on a bonus when you could put two or three people through nursing education?’ Look at the greater whole, not just an organization. I think everyone wins that way."