Category Archives: Shortage of medical or nursing personnel

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 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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Jul 11 2014
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Recent Research About Nursing, July 2014

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

Short Rest Between Nurses’ Shifts Linked with Fatigue

New research from Norway suggests that nurses with less than 11 hours between shifts could develop sleep problems and suffer fatigue on the job, with long-term implications for nurses’ health.

Psychologist Elisabeth Flo, PhD, of the University of Bergen in Norway, led a team of researchers that analyzed survey data from more than 1,200 Norwegian nurses, focusing on questions about how much time nurses had between shifts, their level of fatigue at work and elsewhere, and whether they experienced anxiety or depression.

Analyzing the data, they found that nurses, on average, had 33 instances of “quick returns” in the previous year—that is, shifts that began 11 hours or less after another shift ended. Nurses with more quick returns were more likely to have pathological fatigue or suffer from difficulty sleeping and excessive sleepiness while awake—both common problems for night workers.

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Mar 6 2014
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RWJF Scholars in the News: Nurse staffing and patient mortality, communicating about vaccines, specialized HIV training for NPs, 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:

A study led by Linda H. Aiken, PhD, FAAN, FRCN, RN, and covered by CNN.com, finds that hospital nurse-patient ratios and the share of nurses with bachelor’s degrees both have an important impact on patient mortality. Aiken, a research manager supporting the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action and a member of the RWJF Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI) National Advisory Committee, found that increasing a hospital nurse’s workload by one patient increased by 7 percent the likelihood of an inpatient death within 30 days of admission. The same research revealed that a 10-percent increase in the number of nurses with bachelor’s degrees at a given hospital reduces the likelihood of a patient death by 7 percent. Aiken’s study has also been covered by the Guardian, Philly.com, and FierceHealthcare, among other outlets.

Public health messages aimed at boosting childhood vaccination rates may be backfiring, according to a new study led by RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus Brendan Nyhan, PhD. Campaigns that use studies, facts, and images of ill children increased fears about vaccine side-effects among some parents, NBC News reports. In fact, messaging that debunked myths about links between vaccines and autism actually made parents less inclined to have their children inoculated. Time magazine online also covered the study.

The Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing has developed a new curriculum that provides specialized HIV training to nurse practitioners, with funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration, Medical Xpress reports. “The design of our program starts with the recognition that HIV care cannot be provided in a silo, that it needs to be integrated holistically into primary care," RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar Jason Farley, PhD, MPH, said in a statement. Farley is the developer of the curriculum.

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Jan 13 2014
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Feds Set Aside $45 Million to Strengthen Nursing

The federal government announced late last year it would deliver $55.5 million in fiscal 2013 to programs designed to strengthen, diversify, and grow the health care workforce.

The bulk of the funds—82 percent, or $45.4 million—are targeted at nurses, the largest segment of the health care workforce.

The announcement came as welcome news to supporters of a national campaign backed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and AARP that is working to transform the nursing profession to improve health and health care.

Many of the grants support the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action’s call for a more highly educated and more diverse nursing workforce and for more interprofessional collaboration among nurses and other health care professionals, according to Winifred Quinn, PhD, co-director of the Center to Champion Nursing in America, an initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation, and RWJF.

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Jan 9 2014
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Human Capital News Roundup: Demand for minority physicians, ADHD treatment, anxiety and strokes, 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:

Newly insured patients need time to adjust to not using emergency care as a primary medical service, Sara Rosenbaum, JD, recipient of an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research, told the New York Times. A study co-authored by Amy Finkelstein, PhD, MPhil, also a recipient of an RWJF Investigator Award, found that newly insured Medicaid recipients in Oregon went to the emergency room (ER) more often than people without insurance. The finding raises doubts about whether expanded insurance coverage will help control ER costs, at least in the short term. This story was also covered by NPR, NBC News, and CBS News.

Doctors who are Black, Hispanic, and Asian provide the most care to minority patients, and demand for their services may increase as the Affordable Care Act provides health insurance coverage to those who are currently without it, Bloomberg News reports. The story is based on a study co-authored by Steffie Woolhandler, MD, MPH, an RWJF Health Policy Fellows alumna. It was also covered by WBUR in Boston and The Charlotte Post.

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Dec 27 2013
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A Remedy for What Ails the Urban City

By Santa J. Ono and Greer Glazer

Santa J. Ono, PhD, is president of the University of Cincinnati. Greer Glazer, PhD, is dean and Schmidlapp professor of nursing at the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing, and an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellows program. This piece first appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer; it is reprinted with permission from the newspaper.

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The children of poor Cincinnati neighborhoods are 88 times more likely to require hospitalization to treat asthma than their peers across town. That’s an urban health disparity born of unequal access to the kind of consistent, attentive, high-quality health care that renders asthma a controllable condition.

In academic medicine, we chart the credentials of our staff and the test scores of our students. We tout the wizardry of the medical technology we bring to bear on exotic maladies. But too often we lose sight of the fact that the ultimate test of an academic medical center isn’t what’s inside the building, it’s what’s outside. If we are improving the health of the communities we serve, then we are truly succeeding.

By that score, we are falling short.

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Dec 26 2013
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Sharing Nursing’s Knowledge: The December 2013 Issue

Have you signed up to receive Sharing Nursing’s Knowledge? The monthly Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) e-newsletter will keep you up to date on the work of the foundation’s nursing programs, and the latest news, research, and trends relating to academic progression, leadership, and other essential nursing issues. These are some of the stories in the December issue:

School Nurse Shortage May Imperil Some Children

School nurses play a vital role in improving the health of children and the public, yet students in one-quarter of the nation’s public schools have no access to a school nurse. Still, need is rising as medical advances allow more premature babies and others with severe health conditions to survive. Several RWJF Scholars are working to address this problem, as is the National Association of School Nurses.

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Dec 12 2013
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In the Media: Male Nurses on TV Often Fit Negative Stereotypes

This is part of the December 2013 issue of Sharing Nursing's Knowledge.

More male nurses are needed to diversify the nursing workforce and help curb a looming shortage of nurses, but U.S. TV producers aren’t helping.

That’s the conclusion of a recent study of male nurse characters on televised medical dramas in the United States. Shows including Grey’s Anatomy, HawthoRNe, Mercy, Nurse Jackie, and Private Practice reinforced stereotypes, often in negative ways, about men in nursing, the study found. It was published in August in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

“The men were often subject to questions about their choice of career, masculinity and sexuality, and their role usually reduced to that of prop, minority spokesperson, or source of comedy,” the authors write.

Men are joining the profession in increasing numbers, but negative portrayals of male nurses on television undermine efforts to recruit and retain male nurses, they add.

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Dec 10 2013
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Quotable Quotes About Nursing, December 2013

This is part of the December 2013 issue of Sharing Nursing's Knowledge.

“Nurse practitioners, health aides, pharmacists, dietitians, psychologists and others already care for patients in numerous ways, and their roles should expand in the future. The rise of nonphysician providers will enable more team care. Skilled health aides will monitor patients at home and alert a doctor if certain medical parameters decline. Nurses will provide wound care to diabetic patients, adjust medications like blood thinners and provide the initial management of chemotherapy side effects for cancer patients. ... Policy changes will be necessary to reach the full potential of team care. That means expanding the scope of practice laws for nurse practitioners and pharmacists to allow them to provide comprehensive primary care ... Most important, we need to change medical school curriculum to provide training in team care to take full advantage of the capabilities of nonphysicians in caring for patients.”
-- Scott Gottlieb, MD, American Enterprise Institute, and Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, No, There Won’t Be a Doctor Shortage, New York Times, December 4, 2013.

“Let me put it this way, we have over 1,200 pre-nursing students. I can only take about 108 a year. In the fall, we had over 600 applicants for 44 positions. Realistically, we are turning away people with 3.6 and 3.7 GPAs. And I think that story is playing out on CSU campuses everywhere.”
-- Dwight Sweeney, PhD, California State University, San Bernardino, Nursing Students Being Turned Away Amid Faculty Shortage in Cal State System, Los Angeles Daily News, December 1, 2013

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