Partnerships Help Remedy America's Nursing Shortage

by NewsUsa

(NewsUSA) - Just as America's baby boomers start to swell the need for quality health care, the medical profession is projecting a severe shortage of 1 million nurses in this country by 2020. To meet this challenge, colleges and universities across the country are finding creative solutions to ensure quality health care by increasing the number of registered nurses.

East Tennessee State University's College of Nursing, for example, works with community college partners to share classroom space and to expand program delivery options. It has also teamed up with a hospital system to offer high-school students an "immersion experience" in nursing.

"Nursing schools and the private sector are forming innovative partnerships to help close this staffing gap," said Andrea Higham, director of The Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing's Future, a public-awareness campaign that is addressing the nursing shortage through scholarships and recruitment activities. "Educational partnerships like this are helping nursing schools across the nation create new opportunities for nursing education and practice by overcoming budgetary constraints, a limited pool of nursing faculty, insufficient clinical sites and a lack of scholarship monies." Since 2002, Johnson & Johnson has invested more than $50 million in stemming the crisis in nurse staffing.

Consider the Cooperative Education Program at the University of Alabama's Capstone College of Nursing, which allows students to alternate full-time study with work in a local hospital. Through this arrangement, students are paid to work full-time at a hospital during their summers and for two spring semesters while they are upperclassmen. As students gain more training and experience, they advance in their work responsibilities and earn more money.

In response to the nursing faculty shortage in Washington, the University of Washington is collaborating with the University of Washington Medical Center in an arrangement where the medical center offers an experienced staff nurse the opportunity to take a sabbatical as a clinical instructor for nursing students. The medical center, which continues to pay the nurse's salary, benefits by rewarding and retaining a valued staff member.

As schools reposition nursing as a highly versatile profession where students can make a critical difference in America's health system, innovative partnerships like these continue to expand traditional clinical education boundaries and meet the growing demand for skilled nurses who can provide quality care for patients.

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