October/November 1999

Nurse Solution Team Develops Tools to Alleviate Nursing Crisis

Catholic Health Initiatives’ Nurse Solution Team has begun to develop programs and tool kits for two areas identified as most important to market-based organizations facing nurse shortages: the development of care delivery models and implementation of a national nurse recruitment effort.

"A nursing crisis is upon us," said Bobbie Ingram, RN, vice president and chief nursing officer for Catholic Health Initiatives. "A shortage of nurses is already being experienced within our organization, around the country and also around the world. The Nurse Solution Team is committed to providing market-based organizations with tools that will support nurses and help alleviate the shortage."

The team, which is made up of nursing and human resources executives from all over Catholic Health Initiatives, identified nine areas of need for market-based organizations dealing with the shortage of nurses. Then, they surveyed all of Catholic Health Initiatives’ nursing and human resources leaders to determine which two areas should be given the highest priority. "The development of care delivery models was the number one area of need," said Ingram. "The reality behind this is that there may never be enough nurses again. So, our market-based organizations have to look at different care delivery models and the level of staffing they require to find what will work best. For example, primary nursing, where patients have the same nurse on each shift every day, requires more nurses than a team nursing model. So a hospital might want to do primary nursing in areas such as oncology, where patients really need the continuity of having the same nurses every day, but move to team nursing in other areas."

The Nurse Solution Team plans to create a complete tool kit that will provide market-based organizations with in-depth information on various nursing care delivery models, including the skill mix, staffing levels and training required; methods for benchmarking performance and measuring success; and methods for assessing competence and proper delegation of nursing duties. "We want market-based organizations to be able to review materials and quickly identify which model is a good fit for them," Ingram said. The solution team plans to have the care delivery tool kit, as well as a comprehensive approach to the development and implementation of national nurse recruitment efforts, available in the first quarter of 2000.

Ingram noted that the importance of nurses to patients’ satisfaction with their health care experiences cannot be overstated. "Nurses are the front line of patient care," she said. "Patients tend to judge their satisfaction with a health care facility by the nursing care they receive. That’s why we are committed to meeting the needs of nurses within Catholic Health Initiatives and to helping them find new ways to do their jobs well and achieve their own job satisfaction in the face of a serious nurse shortage."