What's The Big Deal About Data?

Understanding the true available supply of nurses is vital in today’s health care environment.  The last national sample survey of registered nurses (RNs) by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) was completed in 2008 with no further updates or current data on the supply of RNs. As a result, a sample survey of more than 108,000 RNs was undertaken in 2013 by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and the Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers in January 2013. A minimum data set was used by the Collaborating Center for Nursing and included information such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, level of education, license type and status.

  Maintaining updated information presents an opportunity to:

  • predict nursing shortages;
  • allocate needed resources;
  • increase program development where appropriate; and
  • ascertain the need for recruitment efforts.

Understanding the value, the development of an infrastructure for the collection and analysis of interprofessional health care and workforce data was highlighted as a key recommendation in the landmark Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.


The State Board of Nursing has made the survey available to nurses upon licensure or at the time of re-license.  At this time, the survey is voluntary. Because of its importance in preparing for the health care needs of the future, Pillar 4 is continuing to advocate for a mandatory collection process. The ultimate goal is to have a system in place for mandatory collection of all healthcare professionals, including physicians, therapists, social workers, etc. By knowing where we are, we can determine where we need to be—and that’s the big deal about data.

Are you applying for your license or renewal?  Please take the time to fill out the voluntary data collection survey and spread the word to your colleagues.  It really is a big deal!  

by New Jersey Action Coalition | April 15, 2014

Tags: communication, data, interprofessional-collaboration, new-jersey

Diana Reyes

Hello, my name is Diana L. Reyes. I am currently pursuing a BSN at Rutgers University School of Nursing. I am about three quarters of the way through the program and I can say that maintaining accurate information about the number of nurses, the type of licensure obtained, their race, ethnicity and gender is very important. During my clinical rotations, I have noticed that many hospitals are lacking a diverse, multicultural nursing staff. There are very few nurses who know a second language that can reach a patient who does not know English. The concept of a phone interpreter while flawless on paper is often difficult and time consuming to execute in practice and does not help hospital staff navigate the cultural nuances present in the clinical setting. As a result, I would add a space or question to enable the nurses to indicate if they are fluent in a specific language. This set of data would allow the state of the New Jersey to further streamline target incentives and recruitment efforts to a very specific group of nurses. It would help the state to determine which areas lack diversity in the healthcare system and are in need of resources and program development. With this information, the state could help healthcare facilities engage in efforts to hire and retain a more diverse medical and nursing staff in an effort to reduce the cultural gaps present in the healthcare system (Dowd, 2012). I agree with Pillar 4 and also feel that this type of data collection should be mandatory. I am surprised it isn’t! Predictions place a nursing shortage in New Jersey of up to 23,358 by 2030 (“Nursing in New Jersey”, 2012). We need to be able to anticipate the needs in our state and address them before they become obstacles. In this regard, data certainly is a big deal! Data collection would enable New Jersey to formulate a cohesive and smooth-flowing healthcare system where diverse staff are able to support one another when encountering patients of different backgrounds and difficulties are anticipated and accounted for. Rest assured when I am apply for licensure I will be sure to fill out the voluntary data collection survey and serve as an advocate for my classmates to do the same. References Dowd, S. . (2012, December 11). Shani Dowd speaks about "Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services" (CLAS) . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWTIysGtOxM. Nursing in New Jersey. (2012) Retrieved July 3, 2014, from http://www.njni.org/
Posted on: July 3, 2014, 1:42 pm

Fernando Camacho

Hello, my name is Fernando Camacho and I am also pursuing a BSN degree at Rutgers University School of Nursing where I am currently enrolled in an accelerated nursing program. This program is geared for those who already have a degree and are looking to start a second career. This is the reason why I found your post to be of most relevance and importance. Over the last few years we have faced an economic downturn that has caused many to re-evaluate their career choices. Many in the labor force have gone back to school to enhance their degree, to obtain further certification, or even to change career paths. People may do this to make themselves more marketable, get a better paying job, or to pursue a career that they may find more rewarding. One theme that I have come across often is how our nation is facing a nursing shortage, which would lead one to believe that there is a favorable job market for new nurses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics "the employment of registered nurses is expected to grow at a 19% rate over the next decade, faster than the average for all other occupations", and these statistics have attracted many to this honorable profession (http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm#tab-6). However, I think there is a lack of data pertaining with regards to the labor market for nurses in specific regions of the country. In the New Jersey/New York metropolitan area there appears to be a large nursing labor force and the national statistics may not be relevant for this area. The data you are looking to gather would be extremely valuable and would go a long way in guiding prospective and experienced nurses as to where the needs are so that we may better focus our efforts in those areas. Thank you for your post.
Posted on: July 9, 2014, 5:45 pm

Beverly Miller

My name is Beverly Miller, and I am an Accelerated BSN student at Rutgers University. I am currently in my third semester of the four-semester program, and taking a class entitled, "Policy and Politics in Health Care Systems." This survey is an effective tool to gather data, and I agree that it should be mandatory. Data collection of this information is not only important, but necessary. The first step in any successful process is assessment, followed by analysis of that data. As Diana said, we need to be anticipating the needs of hospitals and other healthcare centers. One resulting action that the article mentions can arise from analyzing data is that nursing shortages can be predicted, and resources can be put to better use. Both understaffing in hospitals and misuse/inadequate resources have many negative effects on the patient, the nurse, all other employees of the health care center, and the health care center itself. When any health care professional is in a situation where there aren’t enough staff or resources, it is stressful and doesn’t allow that professional to do his or her job adequately. Hospitals with higher nurse-to-patient ratios reported higher reported mortality rates, dissatisfaction (both staff and patient), burnout, and deteriorating quality of care. On the contrary, the hospitals with the lowest nurse-to-patient ratios consistently showed better outcomes (Rafferty et al., 2007). By analyzing the trends that are concluded and predicted from the data gathered, employees and resources, processes and policies put in place could be adjusted or changed based on what is needed. This survey could benefit hospitals individually, as well as statewide and nationwide. I do hope that one day, data can be collected from all healthcare professionals through a mandatory survey, to ensure updated information which will paint a picture of where we are now, and what we can do to better our future. References Rafferty, A. M., Clarke, S. P., Coles, J., Ball, J., James, P., McKee, M., Aiken, L. H. (2007). Outcomes of variation in hospital nurse staffing in English hospitals: Cross-sectional analysis of survey data and discharge records. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 44(2), 175–182.
Posted on: July 11, 2014, 3:32 pm

Sarah Kate Clark

Ongoing data reporting, collection, and analysis are certainly needed to help understand the current status of the health care workforce and changing needs in health care systems. A better understanding of these factors (among others) is key to developing programs that ensure quality, accessible care. In October of 2013, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) released a revision of The U.S. Nursing Workforce: Trends in Supply and Education. This report details current trends in RN and LPN workforces, based on analysis of data from several different sources; while time frames vary somewhat, it is primarily focused on the last decade. The report is divided into two sections - the first provides an overview of RN and LPN workforce trends, and the second details the current status of the pipeline for new nurses and trends in nursing education. Some key points outlined in the report are as follows: During 2008-2010, there were 2.8 million RNs and 690,000 LPNs employed as nurses (or seeking employment as same). The past decade has seen tremendous growth in the nursing workforce; the number of RNs grew by more than 500,000 (24 percent) and LPNs by more than 90,000 (16 percent). Nursing workforce growth surpassed the growth of the U.S. population during this period; RNs per capita increased by 14 percent, and LPNs per capita by 6 percent. The average age of nurses has increased, and one-third of the workforce is older than 50 (though the absolute number of RNs younger than 30 has increased). The educational pipeline for nurses has grown as well. (This is measured by the number of individuals who pass licensing exams.) More than 142,000 RNs passed the NCLEX-RN in 2011, compared to 68,561 in 2001. During this time period, the number of individuals who passed LPN exams increased by 80 percent. Many of the anecdotes I have heard from new nursing graduates and current nurses in the field reflect the data outlined in this report. They comment that it the job market seems flooded with new nurses (particularly in N.J.), and it can be challenging for recent graduates to find a job. In addition, many nurses are delaying retirement - whether for economic or personal reasons, or simply because they enjoy their work and wish to continue doing it. As student in a second-degree ABSN program, I understand many of the reasons for growth in the nursing workforce and educational pipeline. For many of us, nursing is a means to put our social justice ideals into practice (eliminating barriers in access to care, resolving health disparities, supporting people in difficult times, helping them acquire the tools they need to achieve wellness, etc.). It also remains (for now) a relatively stable career - which is critical for most people, considering the nation’s economy and job market. The trends outlined in HRSA’s report may be surprising to few. Though they might prompt some of us to ask new questions - from a policy or a personal perspective. Are these new graduates equipped to meet the changing needs of the U.S. health care delivery system? How will delivery systems change, and what will the role of RNs and LPNs look like in the next ten years? As the size of the nursing workforce varies considerably by state, how do we create programs to encourage nurses to practice where they are most needed? And where can I (as a soon-to-be graduate) practice to the best of my skills and abilities in this ever-changing system? While I have heard much about the challenges graduation and the job search present - I see so much potential for the variety and effectiveness of nurses’ work, and remain hopeful for the future. Reference: Health Resources and Services Administration. (2013). U.S. Nursing Workforce: Trends in Supply and Education. Retrieved from http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/healthworkforce/supplydemand/nursing/nursingworkforce/nursingworkforcefullreport.pdf
Posted on: July 18, 2014, 9:32 pm

Sasha Friedman

Hi, my name is Sasha Friedman and I am an accelerated BSN student at Rutgers School of Nursing. While working as a tech in a hospital and observing during rounds I have noticed that nurses are not very diverse. In New Brunswick there is a large population that speaks only Spanish and the majority of nurses do not speak Spanish, just like Diane has noticed. It is important to hire nurses that are similar to the cultures that are most relevant in the community in order to be effective patient advocates. With the increasing population of the multicultural population it is important to provide enough resources and proper education for nurses. “Ensuring a diverse nursing education faculty is also key to attracting and maintaining a diverse student population; currently, only about 10 % of nursing faculty members are from minority backgrounds compared to 34 % for the national population” ( Brunell and Ross, 2014, p. 376). I know a lot of hospitals are forcing all nurses to receive BSNs in order to receive the proper education on evidence based practices and cultural awareness. Also the AACN provides incentives for minorities to apply to nursing scholarships. These practices are steps in the right direction to providing educated and culturally aware nurses in the healthcare field. Unfortunately, there is a large turnover rate for the nursing workforce. This is another issue that needs to be addressed in order to maintain an adequate nurse population. Without keeping data on the amount of nurses, it would be possible to see where the weaknesses in healthcare lie and what issues need to be focused on. Resources: Mason, D., Leavitt, J. & Chaffee, M. (2014). Policy & politics in nursing and health care. St. Louis, MO: Saunders, Elsevier Inc.
Posted on: June 29, 2015, 9:31 am


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