It’s not “The Apprentice” or “The Bachelorette,” but a new reality show planned by a San Diego nurse-staffing company hopes to find an audience while publicizing a dire shortage of qualified nurses around the country.
Alan Braynin, the chief executive for Access Nurses, said his nurse-staffing firm is holding a casting call for traveling nurses who will appear in a series called “13 Weeks.” The show’s title comes from the standard minimum contract for traveling nurses.
The show centers on six chosen traveling nurses who are put up in a beachfront mansion most likely in Orange County, and are filmed at work and at home on their off-hours. The production is planned as a Webcast on the company’s site, www.NurseTV.com.
“As a primary provider of patient care, nurses are unsung heroes,” Braynin said. ” ’13 Weeks’ will highlight the many exciting facets of the travel nursing profession and showcase nurses as care givers who change the lives of many.”
While Braynin admits the production is expected to drum up new recruits for his business, he also hopes to publicize the nationwide shortage of registered nurses.
A recent report by the California Employment Development Department shows some 5,000 openings for nurses in the state, including at hospitals, and outpatient settings such as clinics and schools.
Those vacancies are often filled by temporary workers who are recruited by staffing firms such as Access Nurses. The nurses are generally younger women who use their nursing credentials to obtain temporary employment before moving on to another location.
Braynin formed Access in 2001, which he said employs “hundreds of nurses” at hospitals around the state, but mainly in hospitals in Orange County, Los Angeles and San Francisco. He said this year, the firm is on track to reach about $24 million in revenues.
Access competes in the same market space as AMN Healthcare, a San Diego-based publicly traded firm whose former CEO, Steve Francis, is running for San Diego mayor.
Braynin’s Web show has received about 100 inquiries from traveling nurses. Casting, which continues for about another three weeks, will be followed by a vote to determine the six members. Filming is scheduled to begin in August, he said.
Braynin rejected the notion that some nurses might use the show to jump-start a new career.
“These aren’t people who want publicity. These are trained nurses who will be working on the job,” he said.
Amy Morrison, 32, is a native of Cleveland. She’s applied for one of the show’s six slots because, “I love what I do.”
A nurse of 10 years, Morrison now works in Los Angeles. Since becoming a traveling nurse, she’s worked at hospitals from Connecticut to St. Louis to Honolulu.
She’s thankful for the benefits that the job has afforded her, seeing new areas of the country while earning a salary that is generally 25 percent to 50 percent higher than that paid to permanent staff nurses.
“On one side this is an industry that has allowed me to basically go anywhere in the country that I want go to work, but the other side of it is that hospitals really need more trained nurses.”
Mum On Investment
Braynin declined to say how much he’s investing in the project, but noted the show intends to take advantage of new camera technology, including the use of mini-cameras with microphones that can be attached to a nurse’s uniform so that the filming wouldn’t intrude on a nurse’s rounds.
Filming will also take place at the nurses’ mansion and in the surrounding community as the nurses go about their daily lives.
“The focus will include the very intense and challenging hospital work environment, the excitement of exploring Southern California, and the demands of living with five new roommates,” said a press announcement on the show.
While anything that highlights the nursing profession and gets the word out about the shortage may be considered important, a spokesman for the California Nurses Association slammed the show as “trivializing” the issue.
Charles Idelson, a spokesman for CNA, said traveling nurses are a necessary component for many hospitals but are not the best solution to providing quality health care.
In many cases, traveling nurses don’t know all the policies and procedures of a hospital, the staff doctors, or may not have the same level of commitment as a permanent staff nurse, he said.
“Ultimately the best solution to the nursing shortage is not a casual work force,” Idelson said. “It is hiring a regular salaried staff that has a long-term commitment to a hospital.”
Morrison said the early days of a traveling nurse’s new assignment are the toughest.
“Most hospitals provide orientation for nurses that lasts a few weeks. My orientation is one day,” she said. “Your nerves are kind of fried for a couple of days, but over time, you learn how to make it work.”
Braynin said he was inspired to produce the show after looking at a large house in Phoenix to lease for some of his employees. Nurse staffing companies generally pay for the housing as well as salaries of employees and often lease out apartments in upscale condo projects.
The site he was inspecting was rather large, with multiple pools and a large fountain. When someone joked they could set up cameras at poolside to watch the nurses, it sparked the idea for the new reality show.
Braynin said he launched Access Nurses in 2001 with only about $5,000 in capital. Prior to this company, he was the CEO of Brainpower, a San Francisco staffing firm that served the technology industry for about three years.