Nursing, the most trusted profession in America as well as the largest in health care, plays an essential role in advancing safety and providing better outcomes for patients. Yet, the nursing workforce is facing significant challenges that may impede future health care. Certain regions in the U.S., particularly rural areas, continue to report a shortage of nurses, especially in specialties such as operating room and labor and delivery. And with health care reform, the expected increased demand for health care services, including those provided primarily by nurses, is likely to create a significant strain on the nursing workforce. Further, there are new models of care delivery and a greater emphasis on prevention that will require comprehensive care, greater care coordination and adherence to protocols and improved management of chronic disease–roles that are inherently aligned with the nursing model of care.
Unfortunately, experiential data to better understand the impact of these issues on the nursing workforce, including how to prepare for and address them, is fragmented and not very robust. With a grant of more than $2.2 million from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Vanderbilt University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies will undertake the much-needed role of reviewing and evaluating existing data, conducting additional empirical research and using the insights and findings to inform and stimulate action on nursing workforce issues.
“The importance of registered nurses is expected to increase in the coming decades to address significant challenges within our health care system, but empirical workforce research is necessary to help us understand how to better address the issues,” said Peter Buerhaus, Ph.D., RN, Valere Potter Professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies at Vanderbilt University. “Our first-hand research and analysis will help support action to ensure that a U.S. nursing workforce continues to meet the needs of patients and is prepared and positioned to promote better outcomes and high quality care.”
As a leading resource for empirical nursing workforce data, the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies at Vanderbilt University will be a driver in bringing stakeholders together to identify tangible ways to address workforce challenges identified by the research. In addition, the center will play a key role in leading enhancements of the overall field through activities such as:
- Providing Ph.D. students and post-doctoral fellows the opportunity to enhance their quantitative research skills and develop experience in moving research
- Developing, supporting and engaging researchers working in health workforce studies, including creating a network of researchers, policy makers, workforce analysts and action-oriented individuals that currently does not exist
- Building a central online location complete with analysis-ready datasets and other useful materials to fill the void in accessing and sharing information
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation believes in bold ideas that create enduring impact in the areas of patient care, environmental conservation and science. Intel co-founder Gordon and his wife Betty established the foundation to create positive change around the world and at home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Patient care focuses on eliminating preventable harms and unnecessary health care costs through meaningful engagement of patients and their families in a supportive, redesigned health care system. Our environmental conservation efforts promote sustainability, protect critical ecological systems and align conservation needs with human development. Science looks for opportunities to transform–or even create–entire fields by investing in early-stage research, emerging fields and top research scientists. Visit us at Moore.org or follow @MoorePatient.
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top 20 schools of Nursing in the country. The School is committed to academic excellence and innovation in nursing education; clinical research, patient care, and advance practiced delivery systems for nurses and the entire health care workforce. More information about the school is available online at: http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/nursing.