Nursing: On the Critical List

Unemployment has been growing in other sectors of the economy, but in hospitals the problem is too few nurses

When nurse Sherri Stoddard finishes her shift at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo, Calif., she's routinely wracked with anxiety. Stoddard has so many patients in the maternity ward to look after that she often doesn't immediately notice when a fetal heart rate has slowed or an expectant mother has requested more pain medication. "It's a horrible feeling," she says.

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