nurse leaders from across state gather in hershey to address pennsylvania's nursing shortage
nursing leaders from around pennsylvania gathered on friday, august 16, 2002 at the hotel hershey to discuss the problems and possible solutions to the nursing shortage crisis, which threatens the quality of healthcare throughout the state.
the pennsylvania state nurses association (psna) hosted the leadership forum, which allowed nurse educators, administrators and other experts to exchange views and information on topics surrounding the shortage. presentations and workgroup discussions were a part of the forum in an effort to cultivate strategies and establish a statewide nursing shortage platform. the recently released jcaho (joint commission on accreditation of healthcare organizations) study was used as a guideline for the workgroup discussions, which focused primarily on nursing education, retention and legislation.
margarete lieb zalon, phd, rn, cs, psna president, acknowledges the attempts to raise awareness among healthcare professionals, but believes the crisis already is here. "we need to look at the healthcare system as a whole," she said. "a coordinated effort among staff, administration and other nurse associations is needed for adequate staffing and to eliminate this shortage."
a pennsylvania survey cited a 40 percent decline in the number of people who choose nursing as a profession; and a 41 percent dissatisfaction rate of working nurses. of the 165,000 registered nurses in the state of pennsylvania, 123,000 are working in nursing. for the first time in history, less than 60 percent of registered nurses are working in hospitals.
state rep. pat vance, r-cumberland, a nurse who has been an active supporter of healthcare legislation, urged the group to become more vocal on their own behalf and to help change the perceptions and stereotypes of nursing in their communities. "we must dispel the notion that all nurses must be women," she said, emphasizing the importance of recruiting minorities and reaching younger audiences about the opportunities in nursing.
forum speaker donna s. havens, phd, rn, elouise ross eberly professor of nursing, pennsylvania state university, school of nursing; stated that rns are essential to quality healthcare delivery and that 95 person of the care given in hospitals is by a nurse. "fewer nurses means less access to care," said havens.
other speakers included laurie murray, dsn, rn, chair and associate professor, cedar crest college and immediate past president, phensa; patricia hillebrand, fache, cs, rn, consultant, sharon regional health system and president, pa organization of nurse leaders; and joanne hambleton, msn, rn, can, vice-president, nursing and patient care services, fox chase cancer center.
major areas of concern among the group included: work environment; recruitment and retention; education; technology; financing; leadership; legislation and government funding for nursing.
psna officials announced that the data compiled from today's forum will be used to produce a statewide platform to be disseminated to hospitals, state legislators, pennsylvania nursing education programs and other state nursing organizations, as well as at their annual summit oct. 4-5 at the marriott in harrisburg.