Newsletter Issue 1: October 2009

October 16, 2009

Category: Newsletter Archives

In This Issue:

New Jersey Nursing Scholars Begin Their Work
A Call to Action in New Jersey
Leader’s Column – A Call to Action
Keeping Up with NJNI
A Nontraditional Path to a Rewarding Career
Did You Know?
In Box – We want to hear from you…

New Jersey Nursing Scholars Begin Their Work

This fall, 30 nurses from across New Jersey are taking advantage of an extraordinary opportunity to earn the advanced degrees that will prepare them to teach the next generation of nurses in the state. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Jersey Nursing Scholars have begun their studies at nine colleges and universities across the state to earn masters or Ph.D. degrees, so they can become nurse faculty. In all, the New Jersey Nursing Initiative’s (NJNI’s) Faculty Preparation Program will produce at least 46 new nurse faculty members committed to teaching in the Garden State.

“The need for nurse faculty is huge, and NJNI’s Faculty Preparation Program is doing a tremendous amount to meet the demand,” said NJNI Program Director Susan Bakewell-Sachs, Ph.D., R.N., P.N.P.-B.C.. “We are delighted to welcome 30 New Jersey Nursing Scholars into the program this fall. They will help educate the nurses who will care for New Jersey residents in years to come, helping avert a severe nursing shortage that would affect all of us.”

According to New Jersey Collaborating Center for Nursing 2008 data, there are 567 full-time nurse faculty members working in New Jersey. Their average age is 55, and 74 of them are expected to retire within five years.

More than half the state’s nursing schools already limit student enrollment because programs are at capacity and there are not enough faculty to accommodate more students. NJNI’s Faculty Preparation Program is designed to create the next generation of nurse faculty to educate the nurses of tomorrow.

Creating Opportunities, Advancing Interests

The New Jersey Nursing Scholars who are doctoral students are also conducting research projects, studying diverse issues that range from bullying in schools to post-traumatic stress disorder to the role technology plays in nursing education.

Shanda Johnson, M.S., F.N.P., A.P.N.-C., a single mother from Scotch Plains and family nurse practitioner, is attending Rutgers where she is pursuing her doctoral degree. “Getting accepted into the Ph.D. program through this fellowship allows me to attend school full time, thus decreasing the amount of time needed to obtain my degree,” Johnson said. “Once I am finished, I can continue on my career path of teaching and expanding the nursing discipline through my research.” Johnson is focusing her research on obesity in adolescents and how their concept of body image is affected.

“Becoming a New Jersey Nursing Scholar was not a choice, but an honor and privilege presented by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,” said Patricia Saveriano R.N., B.S.N., a lifelong New Jersey resident who is enrolled at the University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey’s (UMDNJ) Acute/Critical Care Nurse Practitioner program. “This program has offered me the opportunity to advance my education and receive mentoring from leaders in the nursing profession. Through this scholarship, I am able to fulfill my career goal to become an educator, and I will be able to share my passion for nursing.”

The New Jersey Nursing Scholars are enrolled in The College of New Jersey, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Kean University, Monmouth University, Richard Stockton College, Rutgers University, Seton Hall University, UMDNJ and William Paterson University.

The Faculty Preparation Program

Each New Jersey Nursing Scholar has been awarded a scholarship covering tuition and fees, a $50,000 annual stipend to cover living expenses during the two to four years spent as full-time students, and a laptop computer. Each Scholar also receives mentoring and participates in acculturation activities to help them prepare for nurse faculty roles.

Upon graduation, Scholars are eligible for financial incentives that reward them for serving as full-time faculty members in New Jersey based pre-licensure nursing programs for up to three years. They will increase the capacity of New Jersey’s nursing programs for years to come.

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A Call to Action in New Jersey

A September meeting of leading New Jersey health care executives and nursing experts concluded with a commitment from the state’s health leaders to work collaboratively and seek nontraditional partnerships to try to address the state’s registered nursing shortage. More than 30 health care executives from across the state, representing hospitals, clinics, medical centers and health systems, participated in the meeting.

Susan Hassmiller, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Senior Adviser for Nursing, highlighted the importance of forging partnerships with businesses. Hassmiller said these efforts are “crucial in ensuring that NJNI succeeds in making New Jersey a model state for nursing and nursing education.”

Bob Wise, President and CEO of Hunterdon Medical Center, called on health care executives to engage the business community in order to devise lasting solutions to the looming nurse workforce shortage.

The Shortage on the Horizon

In small group discussions, health leaders drew on their own experiences with the nursing shortage in the state, and discussed innovative solutions to the problem.

Nearly half the participants said they anticipated a nursing shortage at their institutions, citing the lack of sufficient nurse faculty to teach the next generation of nurses, and the fact that a large share of the nursing workforce is nearing retirement. A new concern is that in the current economy, recent graduates are having difficulty finding jobs. This temporary decrease in vacancies could become a serious problem if stories about a lack of jobs deter students from studying to become nurses at this time when more nurses are needed.

Participants highlighted low nurse faculty salaries, as well as a lack of awareness about the opportunities offered by careers in nursing, as contributing factors to the shortage.  These issues must be addressed while seeking to ensure an adequate supply of nurses in the right mix of nursing roles to meet the current and future needs of New Jersey. The aging of the experienced New Jersey RN workforce and the low proportion of nurses under the age of 30 years creates a sense of urgency in seeking ways to utilize senior nurses while building the nurse faculty numbers.

Solutions on the Table

The executives had many ideas for helping to address the faculty and nursing workforce shortages. Their proposed solutions included:

  • Creating opportunities for older nurses to become nurse faculty;
  • Helping younger nurses develop career paths;
  • Providing scholarships for nurses to acquire advanced degrees;
  • Introducing high school youth to nursing by giving them hands-on learning opportunities;
  • Creating joint appointments between schools of nursing and hospitals where nurses could serve as adjunct faculty;
  • Implementing technology that is standardized across institutions, and then incorporating the technology into nursing curricula statewide so that all nurses can have the necessary technological skills without having to go through as much on-the-job training; and
  • Creating partnerships with schools to grow nurse faculty internally.

Creating an Action Network

Participants pledged to create an “action toolkit” to help others establish relationships with local businesses in their communities and help frame the conversation about the looming nurse shortage. The toolkit will be available soon and posted online at www.NJNI.org.

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Leader’s Column – A Call to Action

Recent months have seen a great deal of discussion on the urgent need for health care reform, but not a lot has been said about the looming nursing workforce shortage. At a recent New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) meeting of state health care executives, 46 percent of attendees said they anticipated they would experience a nursing shortage, with half of them saying the shortage would occur in the next two to three years. Our state cannot afford this.

At NJNI we are pioneering innovative solutions to reverse the impending shortage in our state and in so doing serve as a model for others. We are proud to announce the selection of our Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Jersey Nursing Scholars. These outstanding nurse leaders represent the future of nurse faculty in our state and will be instructing the next generation of New Jersey nurses for years to come. (Learn more at *enter story title and link here*.) On October 21 and 22, the scholars will convene for the first time. Stay tuned to NJNI.org for updates.

The nursing workforce shortage is more than a health issue, it is an economic development issue related to business and job growth. Businesses may have their hands tied if employees or their families become ill and there is no one to care for them, or if hiring decisions must be postponed because of the cost of health care. That is why NJNI, along with the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation, is sponsoring a Business Summit on December 8, to reach out to our state’s business community and health leaders and identify solutions and new ways to collaborate.

We are also moving ahead on our plan to streamline the application process for prospective nursing students. The centralized application service will also serve as a vehicle to cull accurate data on the number of individuals seeking nursing degrees, and will allow us to make better policy decisions based on need and demand. It is scheduled to launch in the spring of 2010.

A focus on collaborations and partnerships is a hallmark of our work at NJNI. That is why we are reaching out to you, for help in moving forward. We are counting on each and every one of you to help move us in the right direction, and make our state a model for nursing and nursing education. Together we can make a difference.

Did You Know…?

In order to meet the projected future health care needs of the state, New Jersey needs to triple the annual number of nursing school graduates from 2,000 per year to 6,000 per year.

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Keeping Up with NJNI

The New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) is working to ensure that policy-makers, educators, health leaders and our state’s residents can get the best information available, with the least amount of effort. Two of its groundbreaking projects that advance that goal will be completed next year.

Asset Mapping

Improving health care services will require knowledge and understanding of the data and available resources. NJNI is undertaking an asset mapping project designed to capture data that can help inform policy and provide a bigger picture and awareness of the state’s current health resources. NJNI is working on the survey with Maher & Maher, the New Jersey-based consulting firm that specializes in asset mapping and has done extensive work with the U.S. Department of Labor.

In July, NJNI convened three meetings in the north, central and southern parts of the state, with more than 100 attendees representing hospitals, higher education, government, public health, community health, business and health related associations. Participants shared their knowledge of existing assets and resources in their communities. A larger, online survey that is designed to collect the data necessary for policy makers has been sent to the larger stakeholder group.

Once all the data has been collected and organized, it will be available on the NJNI website so the information can serve the broader community and help make the most of resources in the state.

Nursing Centralized Application Service

At present, there is no mechanism for capturing the total number of applicants to New Jersey nursing schools, and the number of those applicants who are being turned away. A better understanding of that information could greatly improve the state’s ability to determine program demand, and to streamline the application process for the interested candidate. To that end, NJNI is working with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) to create and promote what is known as a “Nursing CAS,” a centralized application service.

In addition to simplifying the application process, the CAS will increase efficiency for institutions, and provide data that could not be captured before. The CAS will initially service pre-licensure nursing programs though will expand to include post-licensure programs, too. Fifteen New Jersey nursing programs will participate in the initial phase.

NJNI will design a website that promotes nurse education in New Jersey and provides a link to the application. AACN anticipates launching the portal next spring.

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A Nontraditional Path to a Rewarding Career

It’s a long and winding road from painting the art for the cover of a hit record album to earning a Ph.D. so you can become a nursing professor, but for Sheila Linz, it’s a logical one that represents the culmination of a lifelong dream. One of 30 nurses who have received full scholarships and stipends through the New Jersey Nursing Initiative’s Faculty Preparation program, Linz is helping solve the state’s nurse faculty shortage at the same time she is entering a secure and rewarding field.

Linz first became interested in nursing while she was teaching art to psychiatric patients in New York City. A graduate of the University of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, she was working as an artist and photo stylist when a friend helped her get a weekend job teaching art and photography to psychiatric patients. “I felt that, on some level I wasn’t doing something important,” Linz said. “I loved what I did, but that work made me realize that something was missing. And once I began working with patients, and affecting people’s lives, I felt like I was doing something worthwhile.”

It was then that Sheila Linz decided to make the leap to a career in nursing. “I needed to choose a direction for my life and I wanted to do something I love,” she says. So, as her 40th birthday approached, Linz enrolled in an accelerated nursing program at Columbia University that was designed for students earning their second bachelor’s degrees.

She later earned her Masters of Science in Nursing, and began working as a psychiatric nurse practitioner at several shelters, including a 200-bed men’s homeless shelter in Washington Heights and a youth shelter in Harlem. As the primary provider of psychiatric services, Linz was responsible for a diagnosing, developing care plans and treating patients.

While she enjoyed her work, the two-and-a-half hour commute to New York from her home in rural New Jersey had begun to take a toll. Then, one night at 10 PM, just before leaving the shelter to go home, Linz came across an advertisement for a nursing instructor at Seton Hall University. “I had always wanted to be a teacher,” she says. “I thought it was too late, but I took a chance and sent in my Curriculum Vitae.”

It was six months before she heard anything back. But on the same day that she was offered a new position as a nurse practitioner, an offer came through from Seton Hall. Linz worked as a nursing instructor on the Seton Hall faculty for two years before learning of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative Faculty Preparation program. She applied immediately, and was thrilled to learn that she was accepted as a scholar.

“I am not in a position to work on a Ph.D. without working full-time,” Linz says. “This grant is letting me do that.”

Her research project will involve studying people who are homeless and mentally ill, with the goal of finding ways to provide better care to this population in New Jersey. “In addition to earning my Ph.D. and becoming a Ph.D.-qualified a nursing professor, I’m hoping to make contributions to patients’ lives through my research,” she says. The New Jersey Nursing Initiative Faculty Preparation program is giving her the chance to do just that.

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In Box – We want to hear from you…

Are you a nurse faculty member, or do you know of an exceptional nurse faculty member in New Jersey? Please let us know! NJNI features profiles of outstanding nurse faculty on the website, at www.NJNI.org. Get to know the people in the state who are making a difference. Contact us with your story.

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