Aug 8 2014
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Nursing Shortage Offset by Older Nurses Delaying Retirement

Peter Buerhaus, PhD, RN, is the Valere Potter Distinguished Professor of Nursing, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies, and professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He co-authored a new study in Health Affairs that found more nurses are delaying retirement, which is adding to the supply of nurses at a time when shortages had been projected.

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Human Capital Blog: A decade ago, you forecast large shortages of nurses by the middle of this decade. That isn’t panning out yet. Why?

Peter Buerhaus: When we did the original research, which was published in 2000 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, we were using data that was available at that time, which was up to about 1997 or 1998. At the time, we observed that enrollment in nursing schools had dropped nearly 5 percent each year over the previous five years. Based on that and some other factors, our projections suggested that unless something big happened—namely that we would get a lot of new people to enter nursing to replace the aging and large number of retiring Baby Boomer registered nurses (RNs)—we would run into large shortages and the RN workforce would stop growing by around 2014 or 2015.  

Now we’re seeing two new phenomena: First, there has been a great surge of interest in nursing since the mid-2000s, and this has been reflected in a dramatic increase in the number of graduates from associate- and baccalaureate-degree nursing programs. And second, RNs are, on average, spending more time in the workforce—about 2.5 more years than did their peers back in the 1980s and 1990s.

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Aug 7 2014
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RWJF Scholars in the News: The ACA and mental health treatment, HIV training for nurses, the rise of superbugs, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast, and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni, and grantees. Some recent examples:

An Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision that allows parents to keep adult children on their health insurance plans under they reach age 26 has resulted in millions more young people with mental-health and substance-abuse problems getting treatment, according to a study led by Brendan Saloner, PhD. Time reports that over two years, young adults ages 18 to 25 who had screened positive for mental health or substance abuse disorders increased their use of mental-health treatment by 5.3 percent compared to a similar group who were not eligible for their parents’ coverage. Vox and HealthDay were among the outlets to report on the study. Saloner is an RWJF Health & Society Scholar.

Infection Control Today quotes Jason Farley, PhD, MPH, CRNP, on the growing need to train nurses to provide HIV care. An RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar, Farley developed new HIV curriculum for the John Hopkins School of Nursing, where he is an associate professor. “For many years these specialty training programs in HIV have been available for physicians,” he says. “This is the first time we’re offering them to non-physician providers. It’s quite an important development. When you look at data comparing patient outcomes with physician care and with nurse practitioner care in HIV, whether in the United States or in sub-Saharan Africa, those outcomes are the same.”

Magda Cerdá, PhD, MPH, an RWJF Health & Society Scholars program alumna, explores the stressors that lead to high numbers of returning National Guard soldiers abusing alcohol, reports Science Codex. Cerda is the lead investigator of the study, which examined 1,095 Ohio National Guard soldiers who served primarily in Iraq or Afghanistan in 2008 and 2009, and found that having just one civilian stressor such as job loss, or legal or financial problems, raised the odds of alcohol use disorders. Medical Daily and Medical Xpress also cover Cerda’s work.

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Aug 6 2014
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In the Media: Nursing Champion Calls on Hollywood to Portray Realities of Nursing

This is part of the August 2014 issue of Sharing Nursing’s Knowledge.

The TV is a funhouse mirror—at least when it comes to its portrayals of nurses.

That’s the view of Leah Binder, MA, MGA, president and CEO of the Leapfrog Group, a national organization that promotes quality and safety in hospitals, and a member of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action’s Champion Nursing Coalition.

In a recent essay in the Wall Street Journal’s The Experts blog, Binder says television medical shows badly distort everyday life in hospitals and health care facilities. “Tune to your favorite hospital drama and count how many characters are nurses and how many are doctors,” she writes. “More likely than not, you will find about 10 doctors for every one nurse. The reality is roughly the opposite: There are about 10 times more nurses than physicians in the hospital down the street from you. Most of what hospitals do is deliver expert nursing care.”

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Aug 5 2014
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2015 Cohort of RWJF Clinical Scholars Announced

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholars program has announced the 31 physician leaders selected as the program’s final cohort. The new Clinical Scholars are physicians who were selected competitively from medical and surgical residencies across the United States. The 2015 cohort includes physicians specializing in primary care, emergency care, pediatrics, surgery, and psychiatry.

This is the program’s largest cohort in more than five years. Clinical Scholars spend two years examining the delivery, impact, and organization of health care.

RWJF will fully fund 10 of the 31 scholars. Through a partnership of more than 30 years, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will jointly support 13 scholars through VA Medical Centers affiliated with the participating universities. Those universities will fund six scholars, and for the first time, two scholars at UCLA will receive funding support from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.

Read more about the 2015 Clinical Scholars and the funders that are supporting them.

For more information about the program, visit http://rwjcsp.unc.edu/.

Aug 5 2014
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Staffing Mattered: Affordable Care Act Enrollment Got a Big Boost from Assister Programs

Healthy enrollment figures from state and federal marketplaces—topping 8 million sign-ups—during the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) first open enrollment period got a significant helping hand from 28,000 full-time staff and volunteers in 4,400 assister programs, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

The survey, which is the first nationwide assessment of these programs and their impact, found that navigators and assisters provided in-person help to an estimated 10.6 million people.  Programs in states running their own marketplaces helped people at twice the rate of programs in states that relied on the federal marketplace.

Around one in eight assister programs reported that consumer demand exceeded capacity, and that share grew to one in four during a surge in March as open enrollment neared its deadline. Among the most difficult challenges programs faced were helping consumers with online technical problems, helping consumers understand plan choices, and helping consumers who had a limited understanding of the ACA.

The survey was designed to capture issues that came up with consumers, assisters’ experiences with the enrollment process, and suggestions for improvements during open enrollment next year.

Read the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Survey of Health Insurance Marketplace Assister Programs.

Aug 4 2014
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Loneliness: A Significant Stressor that Requires Intervention

Laurie A. Theeke, PhD, FNP-BC, is an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars program and an associate professor of nursing at West Virginia University School of Nursing.

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The Burden of Stress in America, a new report commissioned by NPR, RWJF, and the Harvard School of Public Health, makes it clear that Americans are experiencing extremely stressful life events that are contributing to poor health outcomes. As a researcher who studies loneliness and how it contributes to poor health, I found the report somewhat alarming. Many of the life events identified by survey respondents are already associated with loneliness in the health and social science literature. Stressful events like new illness and disease, losing a spouse or loved one, or major life transitions can all lead to a personal experience of loneliness. This is very concerning because loneliness is a unique psychological stressor that can be hard to recognize or remedy without professional help.

Loneliness is a significant biopsychosocial stressor that contributes to multiple chronic conditions. We have known since the 1950s that there is an association between loneliness and cardiovascular problems like hypertension (Hawkey, Masi, Berry, & Cacioppo, 2006). More recent studies have identified loneliness as a major predictor of stroke as well.

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Aug 1 2014
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The Imperative to Engage Surgical Residents in Quality Improvement

Charles D. Scales Jr., MD, MSHS, an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/VA Clinical Scholars program (UCLA 2011-2013), is a health services researcher at the Duke Clinical Research Institute and assistant professor in the division of urologic surgery at Duke University School of Medicine.  He is also assistant program director for quality improvement and patient safety for the urology residency training program at Duke University Hospital.  

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Young doctors training to become surgeons, also called surgical residents, are increasingly caring for patients in an environment that links quality, safety, and value to patient outcomes. Over a decade ago, the Institute of Medicine highlighted the need for improving care delivery in the landmark report, Crossing the Quality Chasm, suggesting that high-quality care should be safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient (e.g., high value), and equitable. Just this week, the Institute of Medicine followed with a clarion call for training new physicians to participate in and lead efforts to continually improve both care delivery and the health of the population, while simultaneously lowering costs of care.

To support this imperative, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, which accredits all residency training programs in the United States, mandates that all doctors-in-training receive education in quality improvement. Despite this directive, a number of substantial barriers challenge delivery of educational programs around quality improvement.  Health care is increasing complex, driving residents to focus on learning the medical knowledge and surgical skills for their field.  Patient care demands time and attention, which can limit opportunities to learn about quality improvement within the context of 80-hour duty limits. This barrier particularly challenges surgeons-in-training, who often spend 12 or more hours daily learning surgical skills in the operating room, leaving little time for a traditional lecture-format session about quality improvement. Finally, many surgical training programs lack faculty with expertise in the skills required to systematically improve the quality, safety, and value of patient care, since these skills were simply not taught to prior generations of surgeons.

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Jul 31 2014
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Grants to Build a More Highly Educated Nursing Workforce

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has announced the nine state “Action Coalitions” that will share $2.7 million to advance strategies aimed at creating a more highly educated, diverse nursing workforce. The nine states that are receiving two-year, $300,000 grants through RWJF’s Academic Progression in Nursing (APIN) program are California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington state.  For each, this is the second two-year APIN grant and it will be used to continue encouraging strong partnerships between community colleges and universities to make it easier for nurses to transition to higher degrees. 

In its groundbreaking 2010 report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended that 80 percent of the nursing workforce be prepared at the baccalaureate level or higher by the year 2020. Right now, about half the nurses in the United States have baccalaureate or higher degrees.

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Jul 31 2014
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RWJF Scholars in the News: Cesarean sections, hospital readmissions, nurse practitioners, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast, and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni, and grantees. Some recent examples:

RWJF Clinical Scholar Chileshe Nkonde-Price, MD, shared her experiences with the medical system  during the last week of her recent pregnancy in a video featured on Nasdaq.com. Despite have given birth via Cesarean section earlier, Nkonde-Price wished to deliver vaginally with this pregnancy if she could do so safely. C-section has become the nation’s most common major surgery, the piece says. It examines some of the factors behind the sharp increase in the number of women delivering via C-section in the United States.

In a Health Affairs Blog, José Pagán, PhD, analyzes Medicare’s Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP), which penalizes hospitals with excessive 30-day readmissions for conditions such as pneumonia and heart failure. While Pagán says that not all readmissions can be avoided, hospitals can improve their performance through effective discharge planning and care coordination. With more incentive programs on the horizon, Pagán suggests that health care organizations “seek and monitor collaborative partnerships and, more importantly, strategically invest in sustaining these partnerships” so they can survive and thrive. He is an RWJF Health & Society Scholars program alumnus and recipient of an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research.

A study led by RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar Lusine Poghosyan, PhD, RN, looks at how Nurse Practitioners (NPs) rate their work environments. It finds that those working in Massachusetts fared better that those working in New York on every topic in the survey: support and resources, relations with physicians, relations with administration, visibility and comprehension of their role, and independence of practice. The survey also found that NPs working in community health clinics and physicians’ offices rated their work experiences better than NPs working in hospital-affiliated clinics. Poghosyan told Science Codex the findings suggest “the practice environment for NPs in New York can improve once the state’s NP Modernization Act,” which will expand NPs’ scope of practice, takes effect.

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Jul 30 2014
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MBA Degrees Give Physicians a Career Boost

Physicians who have both doctor of medicine (MD) and master of business administration (MBA) degrees reported that their dual training had a positive professional impact, according to a study published online by Academic Medicine. The study, one of the first to assess MD/MBA graduates’ perceptions of how their training has affected their careers, focused on physician graduates from the MBA program in health care management at the University of Pennsylvania.

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The MD was more often cited as conveying professional credibility, while 40 to 50 percent of respondents said the MBA conveyed leadership, management, and business skills. Respondents also cited multidisciplinary experience and improved communication between the medical and business worlds as benefits of the two degrees.

“Our findings may have significant implications for current and future physician-managers as the landscape of health care continues to change,” lead author Mitesh S. Patel, MD, MBA, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a news release. “A study published in 2009 found that among 6,500 hospitals in the United States, only 235 were run by physicians. Moving forward, changing dynamics triggered by national health care reform will likely require leaders to have a better balance between clinical care and business savvy. Graduates with MD and MBA training could potentially fill this growing need within the sector.”

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