Nearly half of the nursing workforce is expected to reach retirement age in the next 10 to 15 years, and experts project a shortfall of close to 500,000 nurses by 2025. Health care organizations that expect to recruit, retain and maximize their RN workforces and related staff will need to give them new responsibilities and a greater leadership role. A System of CARE (Clinical Alignment and Resource Effectiveness) must frame these changing roles, providing optimal care management, provider alignment and the right technology infrastructure to keep patients and their caregivers within the system.
Shortages of midlevel providers—including physician assistants and nurse practitioners, as well as physical and occupational therapists, health technicians and others—are also expected in the face of growing patient demand and increased coverage through health care reform. However, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 does provide for an expanded primary care workforce, including $250 million to train 500 primary care residents, 600 physician assistants and 600 nurse practitioners, as well as to create 10 new nurse practitioner–led clinics in medically underserved areas. The act also provides other incentives for states to expand their primary care workforce by 10% to 25% over the next decade. The new health care reform legislation provides grants for a variety of primary care training programs, degree completion and nurse career advancement programs, as well as $50 million for nurse-managed health centers and a mandatory funding stream for Title VIII programs (nursing workforce development programs). The news is good, but it may not strengthen the workforce soon enough.
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