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A Complex Crisis

No SINGLE Cure for Nursing Shortage 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projects that by 2020 more than 1 million registered nurses will be needed in our nation's health care system to meet the demand for nursing care. Increased awareness has brought national attention to the nursing shortage with programs such as The Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing's Future and other national and statewide initiatives.

Health care professionals agree this has been a successful first step toward improving the deficit, but more needs to be done.  "Activism at federal and state government levels and local, grassroots efforts among hospitals and schools of nursing are required to develop innovative programs to attract competent, new recruits to the profession," explained Pamela Jamieson, RN, MSN, MBA, vice president of Patient Care Services and chief nursing officer at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Maryland.

"These efforts also serve to provide a satisfying professional practice environment to retain staff."  St. Joseph's initiated a program called LAUNCH (Leading A Unique Nurse to Career Happiness) to help preserve nurse faculty and nurse educators. Jamieson describes the LAUNCH program that supports nurse graduates with the transition to the clinical setting as, "A successful program that meets the needs of the newly oriented graduate nurse during their first, critical year in transition."  "Our results show that nurses who have completed the LAUNCH program have outstanding scores in critical thinking, professional practice and interpersonal skills, as measured by a highly regarded, evidence-based tool. Nurse satisfaction with the education sessions has been consistently over 90 percent, and our retention rate at one year for those successfully completing the LAUNCH program is a strong 82 percent," Jamieson explained. 

Dina Faucher, RN, PhD, APRNBC, OCN, CHT - chief nursing officer and dean of nursing at Apollo College in Phoenix agrees that "the nationwide attention to the nursing shortage has assisted students with the financial burden of going to nursing school and progressing on for their BSN and advanced practice degrees." But now, retention is a primary concern for Faucher.

She believes, "The focus needs to be on retaining current nurses in the hospital work atmosphere since there is a cap on how many students can enter the nursing program due to the lack of clinical sites available."  Whether focusing on retaining nurses currently in the field or attracting new candidates to the nursing profession, health professionals and executives agree that a sustained, collaborative effort and multifaceted approach will work best to alleviate what remains one of the most important challenges in health care today.

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