NEW YORK NURSE: March 2008
by Joely Johnson
In 2005, the demand for registered nurses exceeded the supply by more than 13,000 RNs. Expert predictions warn that until 2014, New York State will require nearly 7,000 RNs each year to fill new job openings and to replace nurses who leave the profession. These numbers make an impact – but they don’t provide the level of detail that decision-makers need to turn the tide in the nursing shortage.
A new study will spell out nursing supply and demand gaps county by county. Jean Moore, director of the Center for Health Workforce Studies, part of SUNY Albany’s School of Public Health, is leading a team of researchers who will analyze the number of licensed RNs in each New York State locality. NYSNA is providing $5,000 toward the total cost of the six-month study; other sponsors include the Greater New York Hospital Association, the Healthcare Association of New York State, 1199SEIU, and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation.
Regarding the nursing shortage, more detail means more effective solutions. “Where the rubber hits the road is in communities,” said Moore. This research will look more closely than the state level, and provide specific information about the regions most vulnerable to negative effects of the shortage. “We know there are not unlimited resources to address the nursing shortage,” Moore said. “Drilling down to this level will encourage policy makers to invest in targeted strategies.”
The study will take into account nurses who move across counties, retirement, immigration of foreign-born nurses, and other factors that influence the availability of RNs for work in each area. On the demand side, the researchers will estimate the number of RNs needed by employment setting, population trends, and healthcare utilization rates within counties. The results will provide a useful forecast of RN supply and demand gaps in New York State over the 20-year period that begins in 2010.
To a certain extent, the project will also be able to create “what if” scenarios showing how nursing supply and demand would be impacted by wage changes for RNs, LPNs, and nurses’ aides; numbers of uninsured patients; and the amount of hospital-based outpatient surgeries performed.
The researchers hope to be able to update the study on a regular basis, perhaps every few years. This type of recurring snapshot could be useful in providing feedback, for example, on the changes that occur in the nursing workforce due to facility closings and reorganizations.