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Top Priorities Differ for Nurse Execs, Managers

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media, March 15, 2011

So far in 2011, nursing executives have been focused on CMS’ value-based purchasing and what patient satisfaction scores will mean for reimbursement; healthcare reform and how our existing system will cope with potential influxes of new patients; ongoing cost reduction; and the never-ending quest to improve patient safety and quality.

I started wondering whether these are the top concern of nurse managers and whether their priorities mesh with those of their senior leadership. In a highly-unscientific survey, I found concern for nurse supply starting to beat out fears of ongoing budget cutbacks and any long-term concern for what healthcare reform might bring us.

As the economy improves, more nurse managers fear the brief respite they enjoyed from the nursing shortage may soon be coming to an end. Stories abound of nurse vacancy rates dropping across the country. Nurses are gaining confidence to move about in the job market and baby boomers are starting to talk about retirement once again.

In addition, union action around the country is heating up and calls for mandating safe nurse-patient ratios are generating a lot of media coverage. Consequently, nurse managers worry because staffing and scheduling cause unarguably the biggest headaches.

Nurse execs are concerned about nurse supply, according to the annual HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey, but they are not as worried as nurse managers. Only 34% of nurse execs believe nurse supply will have a negative or strongly negative impact on their organizations. They are much more worried about the threat posed by nursing unions, with 46% believing organized labor will have a negative or strongly negative impact on their organization.

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