SAN JOSE, Calif. - About 50 nurses staged a short march along Bascom Avenue Thursday morning to bring attention to an issue they want addressed-- the revolving door of nurses who go through training at Valley Medical Center and then leave to take higher paying jobs at other South Bay hospitals and medical centers.
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The nurses are in negotiations for a new contract.
A study by the Registered Nurses Professional Association says newer nurses are paid nearly 16-percent less than the average wages at El Camino Hospital, Stanford Hospital, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, Kaiser, Good Samaritan, Regional Hospital and O'Connor Hospital.
"When I come on a shift, and we have more new nurses and new hires, you have oncology and cardiac patients, and new nurses are not trained in those competencies because we've lost all the ones we trained," said Ellora Nuba, an Oncology, and cardiac care nurse.
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Debbie Chang, president of the RNPA, acknowledged that recent nursing graduates are under financial pressure due to student loan payments and high rent making higher pay elsewhere more attractive to them.
"The burden is falling on our experienced nurses, which is leading to burnout because there are not enough nurses to staff the hospital wards. In fact, we're pretty short on average daily. We're always short. There's always nurses working overtime," said Chang.
Also attractive, to the other hospitals, is the high level of training the young nurses get in various specialties such as intensive care, trauma, oncology and diabetes care while in training at Valley Medical Center.
Valley Medical Center spokeswoman Joy Alexiou says the concerns are being discussed as part of the negotiations with the nurses association for a new contract.
"The leadership of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center is continuing to work with the union to discuss all of their concerns. We know that nurses are valuable. They're key to patient care, and we appreciate their dedication," said Alexiou.
VMC employs 1,622 full-time registered nurses in addition to part-time nurses and extra help nurses who work at multiple hospitals.