2022 Predictions on Nursing Workforce Pipeline
We cannot go a day without headlines speaking to the nursing shortage and the impact. Here at SkillGigs, we value our nursing workforce and recognize their critical function in our healthcare. However, the prediction of a nurse shortfall is not new, and it was a key topic well before the pandemic swept our attention. Therefore, we would like to discuss the top predictions on supporting the nursing workforce pipeline. How are we supporting the nurses we have today? And how are we ensuring a development pipeline for nurses, of tomorrow?
Nursing Pipeline 1: Take Care of Who You Have
It is a statement that is so true. And one we know is intrinsically important. We as a nation started our pandemic journey praising our healthcare professionals as true heroes. And now, some would argue that they feel left behind. So how do we bolster a strong pipeline? Simply put – start by keeping and strengthening the nurses we have. Great nurses recruit more great nurses. And what are some fundamentals to consider in retention efforts:
- Supporting nurses and employees’ mental health
- Staying true to a safe work environment
- Developing staffing models based on patients’ care level
- Mentorship programs for new nursing staff
- Do not neglect training and education (more in item 3)
This will be a top priority of healthcare employers in 2022. Healthcare facilities will continue to advance unique benefits and invest time into challenging the status quo.
Nursing Pipeline 2: New Worker Education
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) study released in April 2021, “In 2020, 80,521 qualified applications were not accepted at schools of nursing due primarily to a shortage of clinical sites, faculty, and resource constraints.” Could you imagine if we were about to graduated 80k+ new nurses into the field right now? We need those skilled individuals.
To make it even more concerning, there have been plenty of studies that have shown nurses with baccalaureate-level education have been linked to better patient outcomes, fewer errors, and lower mortality rates. The statement we “need more nurses” is a complete understatement.
Dr. Deborah Trautman, AACN President and Chief Executive Officer said, “one of the most important lessons learned from the pandemic was that establishing strong academic-practice partnerships is critical to the development of today’s nurses and meeting health workforce needs.”
We’ll see a change in policymakers devoting more resources to healthcare workforce education. Furthermore, incentivizing relationships where academia meets real world needs. Including individual organizations that take on a proactive role in education with their local colleges and universities. One great example of this is the Healthcare Forward, part of the Bridge Initiative Chicago partnership. Bridge Initiative Chicago is a workforce development partnership created by the three health systems with a grant from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. Healthcare Forward is focused on taking individuals through realistic and achievable courses to begin careers in entry-level healthcare jobs.
Nursing Pipeline 3: Invest in Continuing Education
Part of the equation of a happy career is knowing there is advancement. Not all advancement means new roles as it simply can mean expanding knowledge. This knowledge, or skills, can help get you into different parts of the healthcare system. Healthcare professionals, like any professional, like a good challenge and do not want to fall stagnant in their career. When companies and facilities are in crisis mode, it’s easy to neglect training and education. And as mentioned in our first point – do not do that. And when we say train, we mean to train all employees whether they are permanent, short-term as well as travel nurses. Nurses who have top skills will provide the best care.
According to the same AACN study, 82% of employers have expressed a strong preference to nurses who hold a Bachelor of Science in nursing. Therefore, the bar is high if the pipeline initiatives are focused on entry-level, in many cases.
Nursing bridge programs will increase along with innovative technology will transform education opportunities.
You may be thinking, what are nursing bridge programs? Thanks to the pandemic for forcing us to take more things online, these online training programs help transfer existing skills to a new skill. According to Nurse Journal, the most common nursing bridge programs exist in either a Bachelor of Science degree (BSN) or a Master of Science degree (MSN):
- RN-to-BSN Programs
- RN-to-MSN Programs
- Accelerated BSN Programs
- Direct-Entry MSN Programs
- MSN without BSN Programs
“Nursing bridge programs offer several key advantages over a traditional degree program. Some of these include the ability to save time and money, the flexibility to continue working while enrolled and the opportunity to test out of certain classes.”
In addition to these online bridge courses, innovative technology will support further development. We already know that between 2020-2021, colleges and universities moved to online classes at warp speed to help reduce the spread of diseases. During this time, the National League for Nursing worked with Laerdal Medical and Wolters Kluwer Health to develop vSim. According to Wolters Kluwer’s website, “vSim is a virtual simulation program to help prepare nurses for practice. The program uses guided questions and interactive scenarios.”
To wrap this support and education focused predictions list, we are optimistic about what 2022 will bring us. We all know there were shortage hurdles before 2020. However, the last few years have shown us that prior misconceptions or roadblocks to job and education access will be lifted due to clever partnerships and technology. And for that – we are excited to be a part of the ride. And if you are ready to begin empowering your path in the healthcare field, check out SkillGig’s support of healthcare workers.