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Solutions sought to nursing, faculty shortages
North Dakota team participates
By Evelyn Orth, UTTC Nursing Program Director
8 July 2008

      I was honored to have been chosen to participate on the North Dakota team that helped address solutions to nursing shortages. The first Nursing Education Capacity Summit was held in Washington, D.C. on June 26 27.

      The goal was to identify solutions to the nurse faculty shortage that is forcing nursing schools nation-wide to turn away thousands of qualified nursing candidates each year. Summit participants identified and began to develop approaches to improving nursing education capacity with the ultimate goal of reversing the persistent nursing shortage that could leave the United States without enough nurses.

      Eighteen of the 49 states that submitted applications were selected to participate: AL, CA, CO, FL, HI, IL, MA, MD, MI, MS, NC, ND, NJ, OR, SC, TX, VA and WI. North Dakota was selected by AARP, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the U.S. Department of Labor.

      The North Dakota team included: Jacqueline Mangnall, PhD, RN; Chandice Covington PhD, RN; Evelyn Orth MSN, RN; Jan Kamphuis, PhD, RN; Larry Anderson; Patricia Moulton, PhD; Jane Roggensack, MS, RN; Julie Anderson, PhD, RN; Linda Wurtz; and Constance Kalanek, PhD, RN. This team included nurse representatives from public, private, and tribal nursing education programs; health care facilities; the Board of Nursing; nursing organizations; and non-nurse representatives from AARP, workforce development, and the UND Center for Rural Health.

      Teams shared best practices and focused on four key areas: strategic partnerships and resource alignment; policy and regulation; increasing faculty capacity and diversity; and education redesign. At the conclusion of the Summit, some team members went to Capitol Hill and visited with our ND congressmen's staff, informing them about the Nursing Education Capacity Summit and approaches already taken by ND nurses.

      North Dakota was uniquely positioned to contribute to the Summit because of their commitment to team work, demonstrated best practices related to increasing the nursing workforce, and excellent capacity to build even more effective partnerships for solutions in the future.

      The Summit came at a critical time for nursing. Latest national surveys project that the United States could fall short by close to half a million registered nurses by 2025 absent aggressive action. Currently, the supply of new nurses across the nation, is failing to keep pace with rising patient demand, in part because a significant number of interested and qualified nursing school applicants have been turned away in recent years due to a growing shortage of nursing faculty.

      In a Summit presentation, RWJF Senior Program Officer Susan Hassmiller said, "The time to simply talk about the problem is over. What's essential now is to fundamentally rethink how nurses are and should be educated and how they should be deployed in the workforce. The experiences of these states offer the best hope for achieving these goals."

      Nurses in North Dakota have collectively taken approaches to the decrease nursing shortages. Already implemented approaches include: increased numbers of students admitted to ND nursing programs; the ND Board of Nursing is piloting a Nurse Faculty Internship project which allows nursing education programs to mentor BSN nurses into teaching roles without the school being penalized for having unqualified faculty; nurses have organized to explore the use of simulation technology to augment teaching; and diverse health care partnerships have been established.

      Data quoted from the July 1, 2008 North Dakota Nursing Supply and Demand publication from UND's Center for Rural Health identified:

  • Continued support of North Dakota's nursing education programs, in particularly, support for the recent expansion of class size will play an important role in ensuring an adequate supply of nurses in the future.
  • The distribution of an inadequate number of nurses across rural areas of the state remains a concern.
  • There is some indication of a worsening LPN shortage. This should be closely monitored.
  • Increased turnover rates of nurses in health care facilities indicate a need to improve the work environment and maximize retention of nurses.
  • Nursing education programs are heavily recruiting North Dakota faculty. Consequently, additional incentives are needed to ensure enough faculty will remain in North Dakota to support our nursing education programs.
  • Given the number of factors that can impact supply and demand, it is important to collect data and track changes over time.
  • Data in this report also suggests that ND may soon have a greater supply of registered nurses compared to projected demands for our overall population.

      One need, identified by the ND team, is to develop a method to know how many qualified applicants are actually being turned away from nursing education programs. In annual reports, nursing programs submit data regarding the number of qualified applicants that are denied admission. In reality, applicants generally apply to more than one nursing program, thus we do not have accurate data of the actual numbers of applicants not accepted into North Dakota nursing education programs. Another identified need is to collectively review the curriculum for our nursing programs. Our goal would be to improve mobility of nursing students from one program to another and encourage nurses to strive for higher levels of nursing education. The ND team will meet before the summer is out to begin developing action plans that include nursing's partners.


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