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  • Priorities

    Posted by David Foster on July 5th, 2007 (All posts by )

    California has a growing shortage of registered nurses–an estimated shortfall of 40,000 by the year 2014. There are lots of people who want to learn nursing, but can’t get into nursing school because of a shortage of instructional capacity–an estimated 17,000 qualified applicants are now on the waiting list.

    So what does the University of California system want to do?

    Start a new law school. This, despite the fact that the California Postsecondary Education Commission has found that the state has no shortage of qualified attorneys.

    Joanne Jacobs has thoughts on this matter.

    (cross-posted at Photon Courier)

     

    10 Responses to “Priorities”

    1. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Medical training of any type is expensive, it has to be done in hospitals, by highly paid professionals. Law Schools are big profit centers. No one cares how much tuition a law school charges. There are no expenses other than rent and salaries. Salaries can be minimal, because classes are traditionally large — often as many as hundred students. Further most classes can be taught by part-timers, mommy trackers, burn-outs, retirees and other low cost sources. It is no longer even necessary to have a library, and if you want one you can buy the books from law firms that are ditching dead tree books for pennies on the dollar.

    2. david foster Says:

      Robert, you’re probably right about the costs and the motivations–but this still begs the question of whether this is a responsible way for a *taxpayer supported* educatioal system to behave. Rough analogy: a police department that focuses on parking tickets instead of murder cases because the revenue per person-hour is much higher for the former.

      Note that the worse the nursing shortage gets, the higher salaries will become–hence, the cost of providing nursing education will increase and, absent major budget increases, production of new graduates will fall, making the shortage still worse. This is a vicious circle, with teeth, otherwise known as a positive feedback loop.

    3. peter Says:

      The point about legal vs. medical training is well taken. However, probably a good idea to note that the site of this new law school, the University of California, Irvine, has been responsible for so many medical scandals over the last few years that entrusting it with more medical education would appear to be foolish. Here’s a partial list of news stories about UC Irvine over the last few years:

      In 2005 came news of the death of 32 patients waiting for liver transplants that were never going to come. The livers were available, but, for two years, UCI did not have a full time surgeon to implant them, in contravention of federal regulations. UCI’s surgeon was actually on staff at UC San Diego, almost 100 miles away. UC Irvine never notified the dying patients that they didn’t have a full time surgeon on staff. Just before leaving the program with no full-time surgeon, the last UCI transplant surgeon, who had been performing an unusually small number of transplants, with a survival rate below federal standards, is alleged to have threatened staff members with “liability” should “patients find out something and decide to sue.”

      The woman whose lawsuit eventually led to exposure of this scandal was Elodie Irvine. Ms. Irvine, who had liver and kidney disease, had 95 organs offered to her by UNOS, the United Network for Organ Sharing, while she waited for a transplant at UCI. All those organs were rejected by UCI, while she was told they were just waiting for organs. Only one UCI physician advised her to look elsewhere for a transplant. The rest of UCI allegedly left her, and most everyone else on the “transplant” list, to die.

      In the 90s, UCI allegedly stole eggs from women who had come for fertility treatments. The responsible physicians fled the country to escape federal prosecution. At least one UCI trustee claims to have resigned his post largely because (he claimed) that the trustees were planning to support the errant physicians.

      In 2006 it was alleged that, for approximately 15 years, the University had been covering up the existence of children from those stolen eggs. In at least one case, it appears that the process of removing eggs from an unwitting young woman, who had come for a fallopian tube procedure, rendered her infertile. That young woman’s eggs developed into at least two children, who are now in their late teens, but the woman was never able to conceive. She did not know that she had children until 2005. Another approximately 20 such children, from 20 unwitting “donors,” are now in their late teens, and the families are suing for damages and to learn the identity of their children. The University is arguing that the statute of limitations for this case has expired.

      In December 2005, UCI settled a lawsuit brought over the (still-missing) body of Anneliese Yuenger. UC employees allegedly tried to pass off a bag of miscellaneous cremated body parts, instead of Yuenger’s body, to the family. This was only a small part of a willed-body scandal that affected many families, UCI, and UCLA.

      In 2003, UCI hired Jagat Narula and Mani Vannan as the chief and division chief of cardiology. Neither was board certified in internal medicine nor cardiology, and neither had a California medical license. Narula then allegedly forced out electrocardiologist Michael Brodsky, and hired David Cesario, the son of med school dean Thomas Cesario, to take his place.

      In 2003, Dr. Glenn Prevost presented a 13-signature petition alleging anesthesia safety problems. He says that soon after complaining about a supervisor forcing him “to take patients to the operating room without consent, chart, or preoperative check-in by the operating room nurse … in an attempt to cut costs,” he was fired and allegely blackballed.

      In Feb 2001, the University of California agreed to pay $22.5 million to settle allegations that it’s teaching hospitals routinely submitted false billings to Medicare, Medicaid and other Federally-funded health programs. The whistleblower, who had been at UCI, left UCI, and was allegedly blackballed. She’s since been embroiled in lawsuits against the University of California.

    4. david foster Says:

      Peter…pretty horrifying stuff. But money is fungible. Putting a new law school at Irvine uses resources that could have been employed to create a new nursing school–or other needed educational facility–anywhere in the UC system.

    5. Val Says:

      David Foster – Britain got there ahead of you! Speeding apprehensions take priority over investigating burglaries because there’s no money in burglaries.

      One way to make up the shortage of medical personnel is to import terrorists. Britain is a pioneer in that area, too. The eight who were responsible for the recent spate of terrorist attacks were foreign islamic doctors.

    6. Tatyana Says:

      Val, for a minute there I thought you’re proposing to import terrorists to decrease the numbers of population. Blow-up people->less patients-> less medical personnel needed.

    7. Phil Fraering Says:

      That works too.

    8. DCM Says:

      I think the number of legislators who go to law school is probably higher than the number who pick up nursing degrees while they are coasting on their legislature jobs and once you lose your legislature job you can probably find more higher paying jobs as lawyer / lobbyist etc than as a nurse.

    9. SFC SKI Says:

      Occam’s Razor points out that malpractice suits are a quicker way to big money than trying to earn it as a medical professional; therefore, creating more lawyers is preferable to creating more doctors.

    10. Phil Fraering Says:

      Sounds like all the rent-seeking you see in the stratified third world resource extraction economies.