Category Archives: Nursing Shortage

The nursing shortage epidemic in the U.S. is expected to intensify as baby boomers age and the need for heath care grows. Read news coverage and articles covering the nursing shortage.

The Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence

One of the biggest problems facing healthcare today is the nursing shortage. There are at least 100,000 nursing vacancies across the country, but 500,000 registered nurses aren’t working in their field due to dissatisfaction and a number of other causes. Combined with aging baby boomers who will need assistance in the coming years, America simply doesn’t have the healthcare infrastructure to support the demand.

The Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence is doing their part to help right the shortage. The primary goal of the Jonas Center is to increase nursing recruitment and retention in New York City hospitals, but they hope to expand the limits of their philanthropy. The Center is funded in part by the Barbara and Donald Jonas Family Fund.

The Jonas Center aspires to reward and promote effective nursing programs and leadership. By signing grants to and acknowledging hospitals that meet and exceed the expectations of the center, the group hopes to decrease nursing vacancies and improve the diversity among nurses. Though the Jonas Center focuses on New York City, they recognize hospitals elsewhere as well.

One of the most important aspects of the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence’s nursing recruitment and retention programs is their intermediary function. Representatives of the Jonas Center help to facilitate discussion between nurses, healthcare workers, lobbyists and business owners. These discussions can greatly improve nursing conditions by raising awareness of problems in the workplace and drawing attention to funding concerns. Furthermore, by involving lobbyists and policy makers, the Jonas Center helps to bring small scale changes to the national level.

Another impact of the Jonas Center is their work with grant-makers. Many fully-deserving hospitals and nursing programs miss out on excellent opportunities for funding because of simple ignorance. The Jonas Center fosters relationships between hospitals and the academic world, which helps to bring changes where they need to be brought. This connects the hospital directly with grant benefactors, greatly increasing their chances of getting the funds they need.

Furthermore, the Jonas Center brings even more grants to the market by encouraging donors to create grants for hospitals. By interacting with numerous philanthropic groups and donors, the Jonas Center is making it easier than ever for hospitals to find the funding they’ve lacked over the years.

The Jonas Center works personally with nursing leaders to improve conditions both in the workplace and in the entire hospital as well. The Center supports and provides leadership that works toward the betterment of everyone involved in New York City healthcare. By presenting the findings from these changes to medical journals and practices, the Jonas Center is creating a working healthcare model, an example to hospitals across the country.

This year, the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence gave four grants to institutions that met the standards for their Jonas Nursing Scholars program. The entire program is awarding $2.5 million to deserving nursing schools. The Columbia University School of Nursing was one of the beneficiaries.

New Bill that would allow 20,000 foreign nurses annually to enter the US

Despite concerns about employment as a consequence of the recession, nursing vacancies grow steadily everyday. Over the course of the last ten years, Americans have experienced a nursing shortage the likes of which had not been seen since the 1960s. Despite attempts at righting the shortage, America is still looking at a gap of over 100,000 nursing positions nationwide.

It is almost impossible for the need for nurses created by aging baby boomers to be satisfied with current resources. Without major changes made soon by legislators, the vacancy rate could as much as quadruple. Obama’s healthcare reforms could only exacerbate the problem by increasing the number of insured Americans by millions, without a healthcare infrastructure in place to take on the burden. There simply aren’t enough nurses who to fill the demands.

Floridian Representative Robert Wexler has proposed a bill to help fill in the short term nursing crisis. The Democrat announced in May of 2009 that his bill would allow for the extension of 20,000 visas to foreign nurses every year for the next three years, bringing in 60,000 nurses total, and providing for 60% of today’s shortage. Should the bill in its current form not pass through the Senate, legislators plan to add an immigration reform package to the bill. Obama spoke to the legislators about the bill this summer in order to discuss even further immigration reform.

Many proponents of the bill to allow immigrants to fill positions in American hospitals are looking for temporary relief. Unpopular areas have a difficult time attracting qualified nurses, and the bill would help to assuage this problem. Dozens of nurses from Canada, the Philippines and Mexico would be eager to take any position, regardless of the area. Though these visas would eventually expire, sending the nurses back to their nations of origin, hospitals currently undergoing shortages of registered nurses would be helped quickly.

Labor unions disagree. Unions are arguing that providing a foreign labor source would limit the incentive of hospital administrators to create more pleasant working environments because they know that their positions will be filled no matter how they treat their employees. Labor unions are afraid that removing such a significant number of nurses from other countries could cause nursing shortages overseas. Bringing in already registered nurses who have been driven from the field by stagnant pay and poor work conditions is the favored plan, as it brings experience back to the field.

Supporters of Obama’s healthcare reforms also reject Representative Wexler’s Bill, hoping that Obama’s economic stimulus does enough to promote a long term solution to the nursing shortage. Obama included $500 million to benefit healthcare workers, by increasing education and encouraging students to pursue the field either at traditional universities or via distance learning with an online nursing degree. Additionally, Obama hopes to cut down on the effects of the recession by increasing the capacity at nursing schools, allowing workers from other industries to gain the education they need to become nurses. This would cut down on unemployment while closing the nursing gap, simultaneously.

MyNursingDegree.com Provides Nursing Shortage Relief

My Nursing Degree helps students find their chosen path in nursing while at the same time helping to curb the nursing shortage epidemic.

Online publishing company MND, publishers of the education portal MyNursingDegree.com has been at the forefront of providing prospective nursing students and Registered Nurses online educational opportunities. By allowing current RNs and other nursing candidates an easy to use and central database of online educational opportunities, My Nursing Degree is assisting students in finding the career they love and helping to curb the nationwide nursing shortage plaguing the healthcare industry.

The nursing shortage epidemic in the U.S. is expected to intensify as baby boomers age and the need for heath care grows. The latest projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, published in the November 2007 Monthly Labor Review, predict that more than one million new and replacement nurses will be needed by 2016. Unfortunately even with current enrollment steadily increasing on an annual basis U.S. nursing schools turned away 40,285 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2006 due to insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and budget constraints. To tackle this ongoing problem statewide initiatives are underway from nursing schools to hospitals all working in tandem in developing new strategies to meet the need for qualified nurses.

One particular strategy has been the increased usage of online coursework. Nursing students all across the country are fulfilling much of their text based coursework utilizing online programs. Harnessing the power of the Internet, registered nurses looking to enroll in accelerated nursing programs, achieve their MSN, or enter into specialized fields of nursing are fulfilling much of their requirements in the comfort of their own homes and on their own schedules. The growing popularity of nursing degree online programs has contributed to increased enrollment. Nursing students, many who already work fulltime, enjoy the flexibility to complete coursework on their schedule and nursing schools are provided a needed relief from scarce traditional brick and mortar classroom space.

A leader since 2005 My Nursing Degree Online features a wealth of article resources relating to the various online nursing programs, a nursing shortage blog, and career planning tools to help students save money, find the work they love and, most importantly, make well-grounded career decisions. In a small way the education portal My Nursing Degree Online is helping more students find their chosen path in nursing while at the same time helping to curb the nursing shortage epidemic. After all it’s the small steps that count.

Colleges Seek Out Nursing Shortage Solutions in Texas and Virginia

With a severe nationwide shortage of 1 million nursing looming in 2012, colleges and hospitals are taking steps and coordinating events around the common goals of helping students succeed in nursing.

At the University of Texas, faculty at the health science center recently hosted a workshop for about 75 local professors to give them concrete examples of what nursing students are expected to know after completing their science coursework. The hope is that nurse educators, and professors will adequately prepare students for a lasting career in the nursing field. During one panel, three students shared stories of how they struggled through nursing school. One had dropped out of high school and the other two had babies. All are minority women, who make up a small percentage of registered nurses. Professors in the audience asked questions about whether they preferred traditional or nursing degree online programs, what kind of grade point average would get students into the nursing program, and what they could do to make microbiology more relevant.

With Virginia also in the grip of a nursing shortage, faculty at Piedmont Virginia Community College is attempting to raise funds to start a new nursing program. The program for licensed practical nurses, or LPNs, would cost about $195,000. PVCC President Frank Friedman said the funds needed was for direct costs only, and not overhead. Most of the price tag would come from the cost of faculty. He said he did not expect a state budget increase large enough to cover the cost, and so officials will approach the localities and hospitals in PVCC’s service area.

Nurse Shortage Solutions are on the Horizon

Across the nation and locally, a serious shortage of nurses and nurse educators exists. An aging baby boomer population is increasing the demand for quality health care and beginning to put a strain on our nation’s health care infrastructure. At the local level solutions are beginning to surface as an attempt is made to make a dent in the nursing shortage.

The Health Initiative Task Force – a group of people representing many organizations – will roll out a new solution in January. The group has been meeting for months to come up with a collaborative program. Current, working registered nurses from participating hospitals will work toward a masters in nursing, doctorates and Ph.D. degrees while they continue part time at their jobs. Their employers, who will pay them their full salary during the estimated two years of education and training, will select participants. During that time, each will spend a third of his/her time in school, a third at work and a third teaching. Nurses for the program will be chosen based on their clinical ability and experience, their desire to teach and their ability to do well in a rigorous work/study program.

The goal of the project is to increase the number of local-area nurse educators by eight to 10 in the next two to three years. And, if the project goes as well as expected, the task force plans to expand it so that even more nurse-students can benefit in the future. Partners in the program include Bay Regional Medical Center, Covenant HealthCare, Delta College, the Hospital Council of East Central Michigan, Kirtland Community College, Mid Michigan Community College, MidMichigan Health, Saginaw Valley State University, and St. Mary’s of Michigan.

32,000 Qualified Applicants Turned Away due to Nurse Educator Shortage

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) released on December 5th survey data that shows enrollment in RN to BSN online programs has increased by 5 percent over the past year. While this is good news, the AACN is very concerned about the high number of qualified students being turned away from nursing programs each year given the national nursing shortage. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) projects that more than one million, that’s 1,000,000, new Registered Nurses (RNs) will be needed in the U.S. healthcare system to meet the demand for nursing care by 2020.

AACN’s preliminary findings show that 32,323 qualified applications to entry-level baccalaureate programs were not accepted in 2006 based on responses from 449 schools. The primary barriers to accepting all qualified students at nursing colleges and universities continue to be the nurse educator shortage resulting in insufficient faculty, clinical placement sites and classroom space.

Given the demands of today’s health care system, the greatest need in the nursing workforce is for nurses prepared at the baccalaureate and higher degree levels. With the government calling for baccalaureate preparation for at least two thirds of the nursing workforce, the evidence clearly shows that higher levels of nursing education are linked with lower patient mortality rates, fewer errors and greater job satisfaction among RNs.

Increased Incentives Enough to Get More Nurses to Stay in Rhode Island?

The nursing shortage in the United States is really pushing the healthcare industry to try drastic measures to fill in the gaps. In Rhode Island, health service organizations are going so far as to hire from overseas, shelling out the costs of a recruitment firm plus overseas relocation expenses, and even paying the costs for the foreign recruit to obtain a practicing license in the States. Does this sound like throwing money away? Indeed it does.

The problem is not the shortage of nurses; it is retaining them. There are quite a few nurses over the years who have quit the profession because they were basically overworked and woefully under compensated. We all have budget cuts to thank for that. Nurses were spread so thin that they became tired and frustrated and quit. Spending money to recruit overseas is simply a quick fix that will do nothing to solve the shortage of nurses for the future. Measures have to be taken to lure back these “retired” nurses who quit in disgust over the lack of empathy and compensation for their work. Rhode Island is at least trying some new methods to keep their residents who are studying for their nursing degree – whether they are conducting their education in state or out – to stick with the state once they graduate and set to work. The state already has a reward program for nurses and now they are providing added incentives for those who are borrowing money through Stafford Loans.

To be eligible for these incentives, candidates must be registered nurses or a licensed practical nurse in Rhode Island who cares directly for patients at a licensed healthcare institution. Quite a few people who get their nursing degree apply for federal Stafford loans to help pay for their education. As part of the incentive program Rhode Island is offering, these nurses could qualify for principal reductions and interest rate decreases on their loans. Some may realize no interest rates for several years and others will have some of the principal of the loan forgiven.

It sounds like Rhode Island is moving a few steps in the right direction in making it easier for nurses to attain their education and keep them in the state at the same time. In a period where more and more of the population of Rhode Island is getting older, these incentives are coming at a great time. The nursing shortage needs to be filled soon to keep up with the rising demand of healthcare.

Retiring Nurses Urged To Stay

With a nationwide nursing shortage on the horizon institutions, schools, and even the U.S. Government are scrambling for solutions to this looming problem. One such solution is a new program spearheaded by Michigan State University and Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation. The new program will train retiring hospital nurses for positions in home-based, hospice, long term and ambulatory care. The idea is to slowly transition these veteran nurses to less strenuous positions in an attempt to keep them from fully retiring.

There have been mixed responses from the nursing community over these ideas. One nurse close to retirement we interviewed told us, “I would love to keep working to help my fellow nurses have an easier time. I’ll be happy to help while I still can.” This on a contrast to a different nurse who said, “I have been working in this profession for 40+ years so I am looking forward to finally retiring and living in peace. I look forward to going on cruises and increasing my bed and mattress sizes for my comfort. I have earned it.”

According to Teresa Wehrwein, an associate dean at MSU’s College of Nursing, there will be 7,000 to 8,000 vacant nursing positions in Michigan in the next few years, and about 40,000 nurses will retire by 2016. “There is a need to encourage nurses to stay in the workforce a little while longer,” noted Wehrwein. The newly established program will not only offer new courses it will also offer mentoring services. The $246,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson and Northwest Heath foundations along with a $125,000 contribution from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan foundation is expected to last for two years. The hope is the program will eventually become self sufficient by the time the grant money runs dry.

The Economics of Nursing – Reducing the Shortage

Nurses throughout history have been underpaid and overworked. According to an article by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, we find that if we increase nurse’s hospital salary, we increase the number of nurses who will work in these hospitals. Now we can eliminate what our predecessors have gone through – being underpaid.

Three out of five nurses work in hospitals. According to the article, nurse hospital wages increased in 2001 by 2.4 percent above inflation and hospital staff increased by 9.2 percent in 2002. This continued. In 2002, wages increased 7.6 percent and in 2003 hospital staff increased by 9.4 percent. These numbers clearly emphasize a solution to the nursing shortage.

These numbers don’t represent the full picture. The nurses are not graduating at a higher rate at this point; we don’t have more nurses in the market. The nurses who seek higher wages from hospitals are coming from other areas – doctor’s offices, home health care clinics, etc. Our goal is not to shift the nursing market, moving nurses from place to place but to increase the overall number of nurses by graduating qualified and dedicated nurses out of top online nursing schools across the country.

Raising salaries is the beginning to a solution that will enhance the number of individuals who will be enticed to become nurses. It is economics. Many nurses love to help their patients, but compensation is important, both personal and financial.

Nursing Shortage Just Part of the Heartbreak for Rape Victims

One of the worst crimes ever committed against a person is a rape. It is deeply violating and humiliating and victims struggle with the trauma for years. Compounding the problem with a shortage of nurses is almost a crime in itself.

For those rape victims who are brave enough to report the crime, they are now sometimes subjected to waiting for as long as twelve hours before being examined by a medical professional. The nursing shortage is to blame for this wait, as well as a lack in qualified forensic nurses who serve on the Sexual Assault Response Teams. This appalling situation will only get worse if hospitals and other entities funding these nurses don’t do something about it.

Instead of finding other ways to trim the budget, staffing is cut short and nurses are expected to do a lot more – work extra shifts and juggle more responsibilities – all without extra compensation. These hard-working nurses become frustrated with the system and quit because they feel they have no support from the upper echelons. This translates into poor service and longer treatment times in the emergency rooms.

When a rape case comes in and is expected to wait, sometimes for hours, there is something wrong. A crime has been committed and the victim has crucial evidence of that crime on their person. By having to wait, there is a huge probability of losing critical evidence. Not only that, the rape victim has been traumatized and thanks to the very system that is supposed to help people, they are actually doing more harm.

Just imagine being personally violated like that and not being able to eat, get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, change clothes, or take a bath. Some rape victims who have long waits in the emergency room to be examined end up giving up and going home, just so they can scrub themselves down and wash away the “dirtiness” they feel. Their attackers now get off because the evidence is gone.

The healthcare system is neglecting these victims just as sure as they are the nurses. It is not the nurses’ fault that there are not enough personnel to cover these emergencies. It’s time to look to the number crunchers and corporate suits that make or break the budgets. Instead of padding their expense accounts and bonus checks, they should be finding creative ways to make the budget work and hire more nurses.