What Data States Can Collect to Build Better Nursing Workforce Data Systems

The Issue: Efforts to create state-level nursing workforce data systems are frequently hindered by a lack of funding, organizational barriers and analytical challenges. This final brief, in a series of three, outlines strategies to facilitate the collection of robust data to support evidence-based nursing workforce policy decisions.

Why It Matters:

  • In an effort to standardize and improve state-level nursing data collection, the Health Resources andServices Administration (HRSA), the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and the Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers have developed minimum datasets (MDS).
  • Significant efforts are underway at the state and national level to develop data collection instruments and online data collection tools. These efforts provide a wealth of best practices on what data states should collect, how to collect it, and how to translate that data into policy-relevant analyses.

Key Findings

  • States should consult with nursing workforce stakeholders in other states and at the national level to ensure that the data they collect are robust, comprehensive and compatible with MDS standards.
  • Deciding on which data collection method to employ requires states to balance competing priorities. Investigating how other states have weighed the flexibility, cost, quality and feasibility considerations of using different data collection methods is a useful first step. 

  • Online data collection systems significantly lower costs and improve data quality. 

  • States should draw on the expertise, best practices and lessons learned by states with more experience in collecting and analyzing nursing data. 

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To support interdisciplinary studies that address critical knowledge gaps regarding causal linkages between nursing and health care quality and to synthesize, translate, and disseminate major findings to key stakeholders.

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