$15,000 incentive offered to attract nurses to teach at College of the Siskiyous
For years, the nursing program at College of the Siskiyous has been a pipeline for Siskiyou County's two hospitals: Fairchild Medical Center in Yreka and Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta.
Now, with the COS program in dire need of at least two nursing instructors, FMC and Mercy are doing their part to help by sponsoring a third party recruitment and retention incentive of $15,000 ($9,000 year one, $3,000 year two and $3,000 year three), which will be offered to the selected candidates.
The situation is serious enough that if COS does not find two qualified candidates by August, there is a chance the program could be put on hold, said COS acting superintendent/president Dr. Char Perlas.
“We are doing everything we can to find qualified candidates,” said Perlas. “We hope this incentive program pays off.”
The hospitals encourage the community to share this information and ask interested individuals to apply at https://siskiyous.hiretouch.com/.
FMC's chief executive officer Jonathan Andrus said that the COS nursing program is vital to the hospital and the community.
He said jobs in the medical field, such as nursing, provide good jobs for community. Without a nursing program at COS, it will be much more of a challenge to find and train qualified nurses. Andrus is hopeful the incentive will be enough to attract qualified candidates.
"Hopefully, we can overcome these challenges," Andrus said. "We want to continue to provide the (COS nursing program) with assistance to navigate the challenges. This is such an important program for both hospitals and the community.”
Last month, Rhonda Brown, COS's intern head of nursing, said the school's LVN-RN Step-Up Program, which offers Licensed Vocational Nurses the opportunity to become Registered Nurses, is on hold until qualified candidates are found to teach it.
The difficulty comes since strict minimum qualifications are implemented statewide by the California Board of Registered Nurses. Those who are already nurses often don't want to become an instructor, since nurses normally make at least twice a nursing instructor's salary.
The lack of nurses is a state and national problem, which has only worsened since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elizabeth Pulatie, Chief Nurse Executive for Mercy Mount Shasta, said many nurses are near retirement age and there aren't enough replacements to replace them and keep up with demand.
She said the incentive program is a short-term solution to attract and retain nursing teachers. She said it's critical to offer quality nursing care, especially to an aging population like Siskiyou County's.
Pulatie said many of the nurses at Mercy Mt. Shasta went to COS. “We understand the importance of this program for the community and for us,” she said. This is an issue we need to take care of.”
Perlas said she is grateful to both hospitals for their support. She added that other community college nursing programs in the region are also having similar issues.
“Hopefully, all these efforts with provide us with qualified candidates,” she said.
Currently, the COS nursing program has an intern director and two instructors and adjunct instructors.
Despite issues with staffing, COS has continued to earn a positive reputation as a top choice to gain a nursing degree in the state. Recently, COS was recognized by the Best Value Schools website, with the COS LVN program named as having the best value overall in California. For more information, go to www.bestvalueschools.com
Best Value Schools said the program is "highly affordable" and can be completed in only three semesters at either the Weed or Yreka COS campus. The school's nursing program has also been recognized as one of the top 10 LVN programs in California by practicalnursing.org.
For more information go to www.siskiyous.edu/cte/nurs/, or call (530) 938-5929.