National Summit in Baltimore Aims To Spark Solutions to Nurse Shortage


BALTIMORE (February 4, 2009) - Health care leaders from across the nation will convene today in Baltimore at the second annual National Nursing Education Capacity Summit with the goal of finding innovative solutions to the worsening nurse shortage.

Maryland is one of 18 states sending a team to the conference, which seeks to identify ways to remedy a situation where a lack of nurse faculty forces schools to turn away tens of thousands of qualified candidates each year.

"Filling the nursing shortage is among Maryland's most critical workforce needs. Governor O'Malley is dedicated to finding a solution, and has invested in programs that will help increase the number of nurse graduates in Maryland," said Eric Seleznow, executive director of the Governor's Workforce Investment Board and Maryland's team leader. "This summit provides an opportunity for us to learn about innovative solutions from our colleagues from other states."

"We are at a critical crossroad in Maryland," said Catherine Crowley, Vice President of the Maryland Hospital Association. "As shortage of nurses grows, patient access to care suffers. This is a national concern that demands both national and locally driven solutions."

The nation is facing an unprecedented nurse shortage that increases costs and threatens the health care of hundreds of millions of Americans, including 78 million aging baby boomers. In Maryland, the shortage has reached a tipping point with more than 2,300 new RNs needed to address the state's health care needs. There is also a severe shortage of nurse faculty in Maryland's colleges and universities. As a result, nursing schools turn away a high number of qualified students every year.

The summit will hear from the 18 "lead state" teams about best practices in four key areas: strategic partnerships and resource alignment; policy and regulation; increasing faculty capacity and diversity, and education redesign. The meeting is sponsored by 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 and the U.S. Department of Labor.

In Maryland, advocates have successfully increased nurse faculty by broadening the criteria by which experienced nurses can qualify to teach; providing financial assistance to nurses studying to become professors; and encouraging more practicing nurses to consider teaching. They are also exploring standardized education and orientation programs for nurses interested in working with students in clinical areas, and development of new nursing education programs shared by multiple schools.

Maryland's team is comprised of nurse, education, government and health care leaders including:

  • Nancy Adams of Western Maryland Health System and MD Board of Nursing,
  • Janet Allan of the University of Maryland School of Nursing,
  • Beth Anne Batturs of Anne Arundel Community College,
  • Catherine Crowley of Maryland Hospital Association (MHA),
  • Joseph DeMattos of MD/AARP,
  • Judith Feustle of Stevenson University,
  • Andrea Mansfield of the Maryland Higher Education Commission,
  • Ann Mech of Horizon foundation,
  • Thomas Perez, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation,
  • William Robertson of Adventist Healthcare and the Governor's Workforce Investment Board,
  • Eric Seleznow of the Governor's Workforce Investment Board, and
  • Leslie Simmons of Carroll County Hospital.

"We know having enough qualified nurses is critical to delivering high-quality, cost-effective health care, especially as 'Boomers' age and experience more complex health conditions," said Susan Reinhard, Senior Vice President of the AARP Public Policy Institute and Chief Strategist for the Center to Champion Nursing in America. "The strategies these state teams are implementing are key to reversing the shortage."

Other states participating in the Baltimore summit include: Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

"Nurses are a vital part of our health care system and this summit will prove that by focusing on solutions, rather than pointing out the problems, we can make a difference," said Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Senior Nursing Adviser Susan Hassmiller. "This summit is aimed at sparking innovative ideas that state teams can take back with them to reduce the nurse shortages."
According to a post-election poll commissioned by the Center to Champion Nursing in America, nearly 90 percent of Americans agree that making sure there are enough nurses should be part of the effort to improve the quality of health care.

The Center to Champion Nursing in America is a joint initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. A consumer-driven, national force for change, the Center seeks to ensure that this country has the nurses it needs to care for all of us, now and in the future. The Center focuses on two priorities: the nation's capacity to educate and to retain nurses. For more information, visit Center to Champion Nursing in America website.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 34.5 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's 40 million members and Americans 50+; AARP Segunda Juventud, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health-care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the foundation has brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation website.