Five years ago, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) predicted that by 2030 New Jersey would face the third largest nursing shortage in the nation. That was well before 18 percent of all American health care workers quit their jobs during the pandemic.
The crisis of health care worker shortages extends beyond nurses and includes all the allied health professionals who take care of us in hospitals, in clinicians’ offices, in skilled nursing facilities, and at home — where most of us want to remain as we grow older.
Last year, we released Emerging from COVID-19: An Action Plan for a Healthier State, which focused on four key areas. One of them was the urgent need for creating and supporting a resilient and diverse health care workforce.
Since then, we’ve continued our focus on how to support and grow the necessary health care workforce. We are in the process of creating a guidance document to improve health care workforce data and analysis — something we believe is necessary to support smart, sustainable health care workforce development. We are also focusing on the health care workforce at our Spring Conference on May 18, our first in-person conference in more than two years. I urge you all to attend. We want your insight and perspective into this critical issue, and we want to hear about your own experiences.
In the first part of our conference, DeAnna Minus-Vincent, Executive Vice President and Chief Social Justice and Accountability Officer at RWJBarnabas Health, will moderate a panel discussion on creating a diverse health care workforce through community engagement and early career education.
In the second part, Judith Schmidt, DHA, MSN, RN, who is CEO of the New Jersey State Nurses Association, will moderate a panel discussion on health care workforce wellbeing.
And our keynote speaker is Patricia Simino Boyce, PhD., MA, BS, whose research focuses on the design and implementation of evidence-based solutions to improve health care safety, quality, and efficiency. She is the University Dean for Health and Human Services, Nursing, at City University of New York. Dr. Boyce collaborates with academic leadership, industry partners, and key stakeholders to mobilize resources, best practices, partnerships, and innovations to drive career success for her students and to meet industry needs for the health care, allied health, public health, and human service fields.
We have opportunities now to strengthen our health care work force not just for today, but for the future. Through our conference and our guidance document, we’re exploring strategies employed by other states. Oregon and New York, for instance, have created vehicles to collect and analyze data on the workforce. We’re also examining legislation currently in New Jersey, such as one to expand preparatory education programs. Other issues we’re exploring include loan redemption programs, medical residencies, academic faculty shortages, living wages, retention, and training.
Our Action Plan and the upcoming guidance document include input from professionals and experts from all sectors of health care, many of them our members. We know a vibrant health care work force is essential to every aspect of the mission we all share: advancing health care safety, quality, and affordability. Please consider registering for our conference and adding your voice to the search for solutions to this critical issue.