New Report Shows Nurses Need More Support for Necessary Challenges

New Report Shows Nurses Need More Support for Necessary Challenges

A new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) looks into how nurses in the United States can help boost health and well-being for all Americans, but data shows that those in the field are concerned about being able to do all that they can.

Despite wanting to put their skills to use to help communities as care providers, community educators, and policy advocates, nurses across the US are held back from all they can do by challenges like outdated nursing education, looming staffing shortages, and a steep lack of resources for the healthcare system. These difficulties cast a shadow on the future of nursing in the United States.

“There are many issues affecting the health of our nation—opioids, measles outbreaks, low literacy rates, untreated mental illness, lack of affordable housing, and many others. Conversations with hundreds of nurses made it clear that they are willing to help people face these challenges, but they can’t do it alone,” said Paul Kuehnert, DNP, RN, FAAN, associate vice president at RWJF. “Nurses need support from their employers, other health care professionals, community organizations, and government entities to better address unmet needs.”

The nurses interviewed shared that nursing as a profession must evolve to meet the ever-growing needs of patients, as well as the shifts within the industry that hinder nurses from learning and helping to the best of their abilities. They also provided their points of view regarding how prepared nurses are after their training and education, and what resources are provided to them by their employers. Interviewees also discussed that while patient needs are expanding, there is not enough focus on them in health care settings.

“Nurses are uniquely qualified to address many of the unmet needs of people and communities, and this research shows they have a strong desire to do that,” Kuehnert shared. “Nursing is consistently ranked among the most trusted professions, and nurses have firsthand knowledge of what patients and communities need to be healthier.”

To download the report, visit the RWJF website and click the link that says “Nurse Insights on Unmet Needs of Individuals” under the Additional Resources sidebar.

Celebrating the Contributions of VA Nurses: Delivering the Quality Care That Leads to Better Health Outcomes Among Veterans

Celebrating the Contributions of VA Nurses: Delivering the Quality Care That Leads to Better Health Outcomes Among Veterans

In honor of Nurses Week 2019, Acting Chief Nursing Officer Beth Taylor celebrates nurses and nursing careers at VA

As Acting Chief Nursing Officer for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Beth Taylor, DHA RN, NEA-BC, provides executive leadership and strategic direction for the Office of Nursing Services. She also advises the Under Secretary for Health on nursing issues that impact the 100,000 VA nursing personnel nationwide who care for Veterans. Taylor has served the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) since 1996, when she joined the Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center in Saginaw, Michigan, as Associate Director for Patient Care Services/Nurse Executive. Taylor assumed her current position, which is based at VA’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, on April 2, 2018.

In honor of national #NursesWeek 2019, Taylor describes her role in nursing at VA, explains the benefits of VA nursing careers and why VA celebrates nurses.

How long have you served at VA and in what roles?

I joined VA as a Nurse Executive in 1996 and served in a VA hospital in Michigan. I worked in two VA facilities within the state of Michigan, in Saginaw and Detroit. I’ve had the opportunity over the years to serve as a Nurse Executive in a variety of different stations, including in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Tucson, Arizona; and twice in Washington, D.C., for the Office of Nursing Services. This is my second time working for the Office of Nursing Services. One consistent aspect of our work — regardless of where we serve as nurses or nurse executives — is ensuring that we provide the highest quality of care to our Veterans, and we pay attention to the Veteran experience.

Why did you choose a career at VA?

I worked in the private sector for many years. I decided to pursue a career in VA for two reasons. One, I’m proud to say I come from a very long line of Veterans in my family and was the first generation not to serve in the military. And so, I looked at this as an opportunity to provide my service to our nation. The other reason is that I was recruited by another chief nursing officer at VA who was retiring. She talked to me about the great opportunities here and the wonderful mission of VA. She was right, and I stayed for the next 20-some years.

What are your reasons for celebrating the nurses you lead and serve with at VA?

VA nurses touch our Veterans’ lives 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We’re one of the professions that is present during administrative hours and throughout all the nonadministrative hours. When you think about it, that’s when the majority of healthcare for our inpatients and our long-term care residents is provided.

When you look at the quality outcomes for our health system, VA nurses make such a strong contribution to improving the health of our Veterans. They are by the bedside providing not only the clinical expertise and knowledge, but also that human compassion that ensures that our Veterans are not only receiving quality healthcare but they’re also comfortable, and they know there’s somebody there who cares for them and is watching over them. I think that’s what makes nurses so special and certainly our VA nurses exemplify that aspect of our profession.

What are the most rewarding parts of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is, of course, knowing that I’m serving our nation’s heroes. There’s no better mission than the one that we have and no better patient population than the one that we serve. It’s truly an honor every day.

We are the largest nursing corps in the United States — possibly the world. And so, the second joy is knowing that I am supporting the nearly 100,000-strong nursing corps that is VA. Through the examination of the policies and being the clinical and leadership voice on various committees, I want to make sure that nursing is represented and that we make it easier for nurses to do.

Coming to work every day, my goal is to make it easier for the nurses to do a great job in meeting the mission and taking care of the patients every day.

What are one or two areas you plan to focus on in leading VA’s nurses over the next year or two?

As within the larger healthcare industry, we have a growing percentage of the RN population that is over age 50 and a shrinking percentage that is under age 30, which is a real concern. We have a mission of ensuring the next generation of workforce through our training programs, and we focus on how we can bring new undergraduate and graduate nurses. We also want to transfer the great knowledge and experience of our senior nurses to our newer nurses.

Why should nurses starting out in their careers take a closer look at VA?

In my experience, VA is the richest employer in terms of the scholarship opportunities that we offer nurses — not only scholarships on the front end, which help pay their tuition through the program that they are interested in pursuing but also through the Education Debt Reduction Program that allows us to offset college debt. We have an opportunity to offset some debt for people who have completed their degrees already and are employed at VA in key positions.

What are some other ways that VA supports nurses and nursing careers?

One mechanism we use to promote nursing is the nursing residency program, which invites nurses in training to work at VA. Another way is by looking at our pay structure and ensuring that we’re competitive. We also look at scholarship opportunities and make sure that we have plenty of opportunities to grow nurses, whether folks come in as nursing assistants and advance to become Advanced Practice Nurses or RNs. We need to have those career paths in place so we can have a strong and well-prepared workforce for the future.

What are the career paths for nurses at VA?

There are so many different avenues in which you can take your nursing career at VA. You can pursue continuing education. You can pursue graduate education and become a provider. You can pursue becoming a nurse researcher — we have many nurses who work in research and contribute to knowledge, best practices and clinical leadership practices. So, there’s a variety of different avenues that you can take at VA. We have facilities in all 50 states so you can go anywhere as a VA nurse and continue serving the mission.

This story was originally posted on VAntage Point.

Massachusetts Nurses Association Trying Again for Patient Limit Legislation

Massachusetts Nurses Association Trying Again for Patient Limit Legislation

The Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) is trying a second time to establish patient limits in state legislation. This comes six months after losing a ballot question in the November 2018 state election.

As reported by the Boston Business Journal, the current legislation being reviewed now would hire an independent researcher to study issues affecting nurses, such as staffing, violence, injuries, and quality of life. The data collected by the researcher will then be used by state legislators to determine healthcare staffing needs and acute care patient limits.

“If these studies determine there is a best practice limit on the number of patients a nurse should care for at one time, that should inform future policy discussions,” MNA spokesman Joe Markman told the Boston Business Journal.

The original measure from this past election was defeated largely because of lobbying from the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA), who spent $25 million to defeat the ballot. This current bill would be revisiting the same legislation, which raises points for state consideration regarding nurse staffing measures.

“The recent ballot measure raised important issues and challenges that our nurses still face today regarding their ability to give patients the quality care they need and deserve,” Massachusetts state Senator Diana DiZoglio, a sponsor of the current legislation, shared with the Boston Business Journal in an email. “While the policy prescription on the ballot was rejected by the majority of voters, we still need to remain vigilant in identifying best practices to ensure the very best patient care is afforded to all.”

MNA has been working to get nurse-to-patient ratios at all Massachusetts hospitals for several years, including a ballot measure in 2014 that was removed, after Governor Deval Patrick passed a law patient limit law. Markman said this study is necessary to convince voters, after the 2018 election.

“The hospital industry spent … million(s) misleading people about those facts and sometimes outright lying,” Markman told the Boston Business Journal. “For example, they continuously said ED wait times would increase with safe patient limits. That is just wrong and not supported by the evidence. Based on how the industry ran its campaign, it’s clear the public will benefit from additional independent studies.”

Ballad Health Investing $10 Million in Nurses’ Raises

Ballad Health Investing $10 Million in Nurses’ Raises

Ballad Health, a healthcare system serving parts of Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky, recently committed $10 million to ensuring their nurses receive well-deserved raises. As the Kingsport Times News reported, this investment will be directly put toward wages for acute care registered nurses, long-term care licensed practicing nurses, and scrub techs, among other roles for direct inpatient care and behavioral health.

Alan Levine, Executive Chairman, President and CEO of Ballad Health, shared this announcement during National Nurses Week in an email to Ballad Health team members, noting that this increase will be helping thousands of employees.

“These areas of focus have been most impacted by the national shortages of health manpower, and have consistently shown the greatest number of vacancies throughout the nation, and certainly our experience is no different here,” Levine stated in his email. “We compete heavily for these professionals and must continue to do so.”

The pay increases will go into effect on June 23 for existing team members. This investment will also affect starting hourly rates for new hires.

“Our nurses and those who work with them in the provision of direct patient care are heroes,” Levine added. “Each of us does important work, and that, no doubt, is an important fact. Our amazing nurses would be the first to say they could not do their work without all the people who make a hospital or health care facility operate. And that is part of the humility that makes them great servants. However, it is also true that in an environment where we face a significant national shortage of these critical health care providers, a shortage so significant that the productivity of our nurses and direct bedside caregivers is as high as it has ever been, it is important we appropriately recognize the sacrifice that is being made.”

For more information about Ballad Health, click here.

Five Reasons Neuro Nurses Don’t Want to Leave VHA

Five Reasons Neuro Nurses Don’t Want to Leave VHA

Why VHA is the Right Choice for Neuro Nurses

Whether you are looking to break into the health care industry, expand your skills mid career or build on a lifetime of experience, it’s important to find an employer that will foster your growth and offer you a fulfilling experience. At Veterans Health Administration (VHA), we believe in investing in our employees’ professional and personal development by providing opportunities you won’t find with any other health care system.

If you’re a nurse who specializes in caring for patients suffering from neurological problems, check out these top five reasons why VHA would be the perfect fit for you:

  1. VHA is the largest health care system in the U.S., as well as the largest employer of nurses in the Nation, meaning the career opportunities at VA are endless. With five Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers, 19 Polytrauma Network Sites and a wide variety of nursing careers, finding work in your desired interdisciplinary team in an area near you is simple.
  2. Continuous learning is a key element in keeping our employees at the forefront of clinical practice. That’s why we offer VHA nurses a multitude of opportunities for learning and career advancement through programs such as RN Transition to Practice, TMS Genomics Education and VA Nursing Academic Partnerships.
  3. Every day, there is a steady stream of Veterans and military service members returning to our communities. As a neuro nurse at VHA, your contributions will be essential to improving the health of our Nation’s heroes and preparing them for a life in the civilian world.
  4. The variety and scope of work at VHA allows neuro nurses to work with cases and patients outside the typical assignments of the private sector. At VA, you’ll mainly serve Veterans with war-related illnesses and injuries, including spinal cord injuries and disorders, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and various psychiatric conditions such as substance abuse, dementia and personality disorders.
  5. At VHA, you won’t be just a nurse. You’ll invent a new model of health care. While working at one of the largest research organizations in the U.S. you’ll play an integral role in developing patient safety initiatives, conducting research to evaluate and improve care delivery and taking on leadership roles to help guide the next generation of nurses.

Are you ready to learn, grow and launch your career in an environment with a wealth of opportunity? Join VA.

This story was originally posted on VAntage Point.

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