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New wave of pediatric nurses go through bootcamp at Rady Children's Hospital

The National Institute of Health projects 275,000 nurses will be needed by 2030.

SAN DIEGO — The nursing shortage is being felt nationwide, including at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. They’re recruiting as fast as they can hire, but it still requires intense training before nurses can treat patients independently.

This group of registered nurses at Rady Children's Hospital comprises second-career nurses and new grads passionate about caring for kids.

“I was put here to give back and do something greater than myself,” said Julia Wood, a pediatric nurse.

She knew since she was a child that this was meant for her. “Growing up, my best friend had cancer, and I went to have treatments, and seeing how the nurses interacted with him made me want to do the same and give back,” said Wood.

Her colleague, Cassidy Lane, also knew this was her calling. “I always knew I wanted to help people,” said Lane.

Cassidy and Julia have already graduated from nursing school, but to treat young patients at Rady Children's, they must undergo an intense boot camp.

“It's more than little adults. It's completely different, nursing skills are different, the equipment and supplies are different, the feel of putting in a PIV [peripheral intravenous] is completely different on a newborn baby than it is for an adult,” said Jessica Appleget, clinical nurse, Rady Children’s Hospital Education Department.

Forty-seven nurses are going through the boot camp, the largest class at Rady Children’s. The hospital has 2,000 nurses, but more pediatric nurses are needed.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 275,000 additional nurses will be needed by 2030.

“Between our experience and new nurses, just in the last few months, we've hired 90 nurses, and that's just since January,” said Appleget.

It's educators like Appleget that are essential to recruiting nurses.

The National Institute of Health reports one of the many reasons for the nursing shortage is the lack of potential educators.

“We need tons of nurses. It's not something that is not unique to our organization. It's a nationwide crisis,” said Appleget.

A crisis that these nurses say they are eager to address.

“I can't wait to meet my patients and help them and their parents and help make them a healthier version of themselves,” said Lane.

The new pediatric nurses will be weaned off their mentors throughout the year-long training and eventually released to care for patients independently.

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