Schools in the Valley teaming up to help combat nurse shortage

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Nursing student Darrell Roscom is learning about patient care at Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia.

"It's actually very rewarding-- you don't get these opportunities all the time, especially for being in school. You get to go to different floors. See different types of rotations like pediatrics and OB and things like that."

The former Army medic is enrolled at the College of Sequoias. The registered nursing program is in high demand.

Belen Kersten, the COS Nursing Director, said, "We had 170 applications and of that only 40 seats were offered and there were 10 alternates."

COS chooses students based on merit and say every year they see more students interested in nursing. They say bilingual and diverse nurses are needed. They are partnering with Kaweah Delta to help train students, as well as help licensed vocational nurses, become registered nurses.

Kaweah Delta Assistant Chief Nursing Officer Dan Allain said, "We give them real-life experience. There's nothing like having the patient and the family at the bedside, and developing the ability to have that interaction and the communication skills and the touch of a real patient."

The hospital said they are also able to see how students work.

Allain said, "It gives us an opportunity to shall we say grab the best of the best."

They hope to attract the best candidates to their hospital and serve their patients. As for Roscom, he has his eyes set on a long career in the health profession.

"Started out as a medic, became a nurse, and hopefully further my education and maybe a nurse practitioner or something like that."

The South Valley hospital is the second largest employer in Tulare County.

The demand is expected to grow 35-percent by 2030 and hospitals like Kaweah Delta said they will continue to hire qualified applicants. Starting pay for registered nurses is $34 an hour.
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