According to the new administrator of Issaquah Nursing and Rehabilitation, Lisa Stubenrauch, a shortage of registered nurses is threatening the future of the health care industry.
And she would know — in a 23 year career Stubenrauch has risen from the ground floor of the nursing profession, as a student at Everett Community College and Seattle University, to its heights, as a director of nursing and an administrator, across the state.
Along the way, Stubenrauch has seen that it takes a great deal of passion and commitment to build a long career as a nurse, due the intensity of the work and the long hours.
“You’re responsible for people’s lives, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” she said. “I can’t think of another profession where the pressure is that immediate.”
Stubenrauch remembers working 100 hours a week as a director of nursing, and says that it has always been a challenge to hold on to staff, due to the high burn-out rate.
She says that the stable core of nurses at the Issaquah center has made her job a lot easier.
“I am very lucky here, to have a great team of nurses and nursing assistants who have been here for a while,” Stubenrach said. “I think they appreciate the family atmosphere of the place, it is a very friendly community, and that tends to ease the pressure of the work.”
But, Stubenrach said, greater incentives will be needed to encourage graduates to enter the nursing profession, or else the skill shortage will worsen.
“At the moment we are being helped by an influx of nurses from places like Ireland, and the Philippines,” she said, before adding that there needs to be long term plans put in place for strengthening the nursing industry.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen when I get old,” she said.
Stubenrach says that one of the key roles of an administrator is to attract young nurses, and that building relationships through local colleges and job fairs will help ensure that the ranks of local caregivers are refreshed.
“I know that in the past the government has assisted the industry by agreeing to pay off the student loans of graduates who decide to study to be a registered nurse,” she said, adding that incentives such as these were effective and important. Nurses in places like the Eastside also have to consider how they can afford to live here. A lot of our staff have to travel from places like Tacoma, as housing locally is just too expensive.”
Already the new director has brought much change to Issaquah Nursing and Rehabilitation, from building repairs and redecorating, to the introduction of new programs.
A family council will give the families and friends of patients an opportunity to work with management, and provide a regular forum for feedback.
Stubenrauch said that the center would also further explore alternatives to pharmaceutical remedies.
These would include promoting aromatherapy, massage and relaxation counseling where before pills and medicine were used.