It is estimated that in 10 years, there will be a shortage of over a half million nurses and the need for Spanish-speaking nurses is even higher. As the population continues to grow, the need for qualified professionals is even greater. Dr. Beverly Malone, CEO of the National League for Nursing explains that nurses play a vital role in the future of healthcare and there is a lot of work to be done.
The National League for Nursing has a partnership with Johnson & Johnson, the Campaign for Nursing’s Future, where together they are joining forces to address the biggest nursing shortage in the history of the U.S. “The mission is to build a strong nursing workforce for the benefit of the nation and global community,” explains Dr. Malone.
Things are rapidly changing. Before nurses used to go to college and right after they would go to a hospital and get a job. “Many times nurses fresh out of college look for jobs and these places want nurses with experience, so nurses are forced to go to the next town or to a rural area where they have a greater need,” she explains. Nurses tend to be women with families and the whole idea of moving your whole family to get a job might not be in the frameworks.
“Baby boomers who stayed during the economic downtime are not going to stay much longer, we’re going to retire and that will be a mass retirement and that is part of the numbers that we’re looking at in the near future,” says Dr. Malone. Finding qualified nurses doesn’t seem to be a big issue, but finding a qualified diverse faculty is a problem.
“When we look at minority nurses in terms of numbers, Hispanic nurses in the workforce count for less than 6% of the workforce, the numbers are really low and with the demographics changing so quickly, there’s a mismatch between the number of patients that need to be served and the number of nurses that are available,” she explains.
The National League for Nursing focuses on the kind of problems that exist and direct them to the schools to bring in more diversity. They do this for all communities because the demographics demand it. Their focus is the faculty, so they have to build up the knowledge base. “We want the faculty to grow in terms of knowledge, not only verbally, but also inclusion, in terms of the decision-making,” she says. So much has to do with the faculty that is attentive to the needs and understands the cultural differences and there’s a cultural confidence that goes with it.
“I don’t think that this could ever be classified as a problem, I think it’s a wonderful opportunity and a challenge for us to make sure that as the National League of Nursing we do everything we possibly can to meet the needs of the patients we have,” says Dr. Malone. She adds that they have to make sure that there is an environment, a culture that welcomes and supports diversity. “It’s not enough to just become a nurse, they need to go to the next step and get their master’s and doctorate’s so they can teach and prepare other nurses,” she says.