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California Needs Thousands of Nurses, but Leaders Can’t Agree on How to Fill Jobs

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Some hospitals in Southern California have a nurse 30% vacancy rate, which is creating staff burnout. Many nurses are leaving the industry earlier than planned. (Shutterstock)
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Ashley Hooks always planned to retire at Lakewood Regional Medical Center, where she has been a nurse for 12 years. But now, Hooks said, staffing issues are so bad and burnout so severe that she’s rethinking how she wants to spend the rest of her career.


Kristen Hwang
CalMatters

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the number of nurses at the hospital dropped from just below 500 to 330 according to her union’s roster, said Hooks, who is 53.

“It wasn’t even this difficult during the height of the COVID pandemic,” she said.

Hooks’ stress reflects pressure many California nurses are under because of steep understaffing that she and others say is driving many professionals out of the industry.

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