It's no secret that the United States has a nursing shortage, one that promises to grow to alarming proportions—particularly in this country's long-term care facilities. Too many nurses are retiring and too few are entering the profession. To compound the problem, within the next five to 10 years, more than 76 million baby boomers are scheduled to retire from the workforce, with a significantly smaller number of Generation Xers available to fill the healthcare jobs being vacated. There already is a shortage of healthcare workers. It's going to get worse. Nursing homes and long-term care facilities need to be prepared.
The Annenberg School of Nursing
At a time when the country is deeply confronted with this crisis of care, the Los Angeles Jewish Home recently became one of the only U.S. multilevel senior-living facilities to also be home to a school of nursing. The new Annenberg School of Nursing at the Jewish Home is a full-time program that prepares students to pass the state-required exam for licensure. The intensive curriculum engages students 40 hours per week in the classroom or at clinical sites, plus three hours of reading per day. All students receive 500 hours of classroom instruction and 980 hours of clinical training at local hospitals.
California's nursing shortage
The nation's nursing shortage is particularly acute in California where the Jewish Home is based. According to the California Economic Development Department, the state is expected to be short more than 100,000 registered nurses and 25,000 licensed vocational nurses by 2010. Like our fellow healthcare providers, those numbers mean that the Jewish Home must confront the dual dimensions of this challenge: recruiting new nurses and retaining existing ones. Only by doing both can the Home—and the entire industry, for that matter—ensure that professional, well-trained nurses will be available to serve future needs as society ages.
In deciding how to tackle this challenge, we realized early on that two amazing untapped resources were located in our own backyard. The first was our own multigenerational group of employees, many of whom had worked with us for decades and felt a deep affinity for our organization and those we serve. The second was our facility's deeply rooted community ties; after all, the Jewish Home has been around for nearly 100 years. So, rather than looking for Band-Aid® solutions (like tracking temporary pools of nurses), we thought strategically about what could be done to serve our current and long-term needs as well as build our community and enhance the Home as an employer of choice.
What we quickly realized was that the establishment of a school of nursing would provide the answers. The Annenberg School of Nursing offers wonderful career development opportunities for our multigenerational employees as well as for members of the community in which we operate. Knowing that we would need financial assistance to make this concept a reality, we researched logical philanthropic partners whose mission complemented ours and whose support would help us reach our nursing goals. Ultimately, we approached the Annenberg Foundation and the UniHealth Foundation to partner with us to formally begin a nursing program of our own.
Our philanthropic partners
Established in 1989 by Walter H. Annenberg, the Annenberg Foundation provides funding and support to nonprofit organizations both in the United States as well as globally. Its major program areas are education and youth development; arts, culture and humanities; civic, community and the environment; and health and human services. In addition, the Foundation operates a number of initiatives that expand and complement these program areas. The Annenberg Foundation exists to advance the public well-being through improved communication and, to achieve this goal, the Foundation encourages the development of more effective ways to share ideas and knowledge. And that's exactly what our school of nursing endeavors to accomplish.
We think there are many aspects of the template we've established that can be followed by others in the long-term care and nursing home industry.
All of us talk about giving our staff opportunities to advance in their careers. Doing something about it is a whole different ballgame. But it can be done on your own site with fantastic results. Our employees now look at our nursing school as a step up in professional and financial growth. At the same time, we have been pleased to discover that our school promotes interest in the children of our staff and our community residents, who are looking down the road for job opportunities. What's more, when people are trained on our site, they are exposed to our residents, learn about our community's diversity, and become part of the social framework in which they will be immersed upon graduation.