Statewide forum addresses nursing shortage
November 17, 2016
A forum held Nov. 4 at the East Carolina University College of Nursing sought to address the nursing workforce shortage, a national trend that also threatens to affect the quality of health care in North Carolina.
About 1.2 million registered nurse vacancies are expected to emerge between now and 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That shortage — together with a disparity in the distribution of the nursing workforce between metropolitan and rural areas — could have an effect in this state as well.
Gaye Timiney, senior clinical operations consultant at Kronos; ECCNL Directory Dr. Gina Woody; Dr. Susan Reese, chief nurse executive at Kronos; and NCONL President Dr. Donna Lake.
"The purpose of the forum was to identify challenges and share strategies in dealing with staffing issues in North Carolina's acute care hospitals," explained Dr. Gina Woody, director of the College of Nursing-based East Carolina Center for Nursing Leadership, which co-sponsored the event with the North Carolina Organization of Nurse Leaders.
The forum brought together 51 leaders from across the state to consider the best strategies for confronting challenges in nursing staffing and to help ensure North Carolina has the best nursing care possible. Attendees represented the state's medical centers, academic health centers, community hospitals, and the North Carolina Board of Nursing.
Keynote speaker Dr. Susan Reese provided a national perspective on nursing workforce trends. Reese is chief nurse executive at workforce management company Kronos and has widely published articles on the subject of nursing staffing and scheduling challenges. Reese cautioned the audience about increased health care demands, and "pockets of staffing challenges" in our hospitals causing nurses to be fatigued due to increased staffing demands.
The shortage is already making an impact in North Carolina, according to a survey sent to forum attendees prior to the event. Ninety-seven percent of respondents said they've experienced staffing challenges in the form of shortages in certain nursing workforce specialties. Sixty-one percent of survey participants also indicated having had to hire contract travel nurses in the last year.
To facilitate conversation and problem-solving related to this issue, the forum featured 10-minute lectures from nurse leaders who lead resource manpower staffing resources at Vidant Health, WakeMED Health and Hospitals, New Hanover Regional Medical Center, and UNC Wayne Memorial Hospital. Following these informative sessions, participants broke into smaller groups to discuss nurse staffing, share successful tactics, and explore innovative strategies.
A final written outcome summary of the event will include identification of specific challenges, formulation of strategies to alleviate these challenges, and the creation of best practices for creative staffing, recruiting, and retention. Organizers will share the summary with hospital executive leadership and professional health professional organizations.
"This forum provided a snapshot in time of the North Carolina workforce from a sample of hospitals," said Dr. Donna Lake, a College of Nursing faculty member who is president of the North Carolina Organization of Nurse Leaders. "Keeping our finger on the pulse of hospital nurse staffing will ensure we can provide quality nursing care to North Carolinians now and in the future."
NCONL President, Donna Lake, PhD, RN, NEA-BC