Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA) and Organization of Nurse Leaders Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire & Connecticut (ONL), in cooperation with many partners and collaborators, are leading the way to address the future nursing shortage in the Bay State and is actively engaged in several short-term and long-term efforts.
Department of Higher Education (DHE) Nursing Initiative
MHA and the MA Department of Higher Education serve as co-team leaders for the Massachusetts Nursing and Allied Health Workforce Initiative. Some of the Initiative's important work includes:
- Co-chairing the Massachusetts team for the Center to Champion Nursing in America, a joint initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration and the U.S. Department of Labor;
- Developing and continually updating the "Nurse of the Future" curriculum, which establishes educational competencies in Massachusetts schools of nursing to ensure future nurses are consistently and adequately prepared.
- Working to improve nursing student competency and skills by expanding the placement and use of simulation mannequins (SimMan & SimBaby);
- Expanding the availability and use of a state-wide Centralized Clinical Placement system to ensure nursing student clinical placement in various required settings during training;
- Developing and implementing a survey of Massachusetts nurses to collect workforce supply data to inform future nursing workforce needs in the state.
- Increasing the number of nursing faculty in the state by seeking funding from foundations and other sources and offering nursing scholarships for nurses who will commit to teaching.
Building Nursing Faculty:
- We garnered a pilot grant of $100,000 from Tufts Health Plan, to provide scholarships for nurses enrolled in doctoral nursing programs in the UMass system who agree to teach nursing in Massachusetts upon graduation. Ten scholarships were awarded in 2008.
- Recognizing the continuing need for nursing faculty, the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, as our partner in a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Partners in Nursing (PIN) grant, awarded a match of $250,000 to MHA/MHREA for nursing scholarships, with expanded criteria to include nursing students enrolled in master's and doctoral programs in the Bay State. To date, eleven scholarships have been awarded.
- This scholarship program is now concluded. A total of 36 scholarships have been awarded since inception of the program in 2008. We will continue to monitor the progress of these nurse scholars as they complete their advanced education and become nursing faculty.
Building on Success:
Our efforts to incentivize nursing students who agree to teach nursing locally after graduation have also been recognized with a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant - "Partners Investing in Nursing's Future" (PIN) for our Project: Creativity & Connections: Building a Regional Nursing Education Framework. This project provides a multifaceted tri-state approach to address nursing faculty development and educational infrastructure issues. The specific plans for this project focus on building a regional nursing education collaborative among the states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. The goals of this project are to:
- Increase the number and diversity of nursing faculty through scholarship support for individuals who will commit to teaching.
- Increase nursing school capacity through the utilization of a centralized database for the coordination of clinical placements designed to increase the availability of clinical placements sites.
- Design nursing education curriculum models throughout the New England region that are more aligned with the needs of the current health care environment and insure a more standardized approach to the competencies needed for all future nurses.
Keeping Nurses in the Workforce
In addition to training and recruitment efforts, retention of existing nurses is also an important part of Massachusetts' efforts to address the impending nursing shortage. Hospitals are using innovative steps to retain nurses, and Organization of Nurse Leaders Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire & Connecticut (ONL) and MHA are working to help hospitals in this area.
Making the Job Hunt Easier
On a daily basis, MHA is also working with hospitals throughout the state to fill key nursing vacancies through the association's career web site, MAHospitalCareers.com, a one-stop healthcare job clearinghouse site that links healthcare job-seekers with open positions at more than 30 different Massachusetts hospitals.