How to Navigate
Move forward or backward between articles by clicking the arrows.
Click or tap to bring up the Table of Contents.
Share articles by clicking on one of the social media icons in the upper right corner of the page.
Use your mouse wheel, keyboard arrow keys, or scroll bar to move up and down in an article.
Nurse leader probes future staffing needs
Need for acute care pros may not diminish as forecasted
By David Brown
David Brown is a freelance writer.
When she was the senior vice president and CEO of the
American Organization of Nurse Executives
last year (she currently is the system CNO of Carolinas Health), Maureen Swick, MSN, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, headed a group of nearly 10,000 leaders in nursing. Among her duties, Swick shepherded key initiatives, including workforce, quality and safety, along with future care delivery models. It is the future of healthcare staffing needs — in the inpatient and acute care worlds — which Swick recently discussed in a conversation with OnCourse Learning.
Even as more ambulatory care moves out into the community setting, what we’ve been seeing nationally is the continued need for acute care services. It’s especially going to be that way on the inpatient side, when you talk
about critical care
, or the need for a high level of emergency care. Inpatient professionals had been thinking in the past that everything labeled “inpatient” was going to go outside of the hospital. But what most of my colleagues see coming is a deeper intensity of acute care service.
Everyone I’ve talked to in home health services has seen significant growth, and with that, there’s a need for nurses. It’s a huge need for nurses
- Maureen Swick, RN

Look at our aging population of patients, and there’s also been a big push for health and wellness on the preventive care side. Those factors are going to take more than a decade to have an impact on the acute care setting. You’ve got a growing elderly population, with
people who have multiple chronic illnesses
who are going to need treatment. The less-acute cases can be treated outside of the walls of the hospital, but there’s also going to be a continued need, as the population ages, for a higher level of acute care on the inside.
New nurses are going to be needed in all settings, certainly from a home health perspective, with the expansion into the community. Everyone I’ve talked to in home health services has seen significant growth, and with that, there’s a need for nurses. It’s a huge need for nurses.

Whether there’s an overall shortage, it will depend on the geographical area. Certainly, rural health is struggling to fill many of their positions, regardless if it’s an outpatient or acute care setting. As far as suburban and urban areas, while they might be able to recruit enough nurses, the mix of experienced versus inexperienced nurses continues to be an issue. Nurses retire, some move on, so it’s become an issue to make sure there’s a balance of experience in the acute care setting.
Several years ago, the healthcare industry had a collective expectation that large numbers of nurses were all going to leave the workforce and retire. Due to issues in the economy, they didn’t [retire] in the numbers expected. But with the economic recovery, many health systems are seeing more and more retirements now, so they’re making some creative roles for those nurses to try and keep them on board. Helping to prepare newer nurses and keeping the experienced ones on in roles where, perhaps, they don’t have to do a lot of labor-intensive bedside care.
Q: Why has the thinking changed?
Q: Is the industry properly prepared for this?
Many organizations and health systems are recognizing these needs now from a values proposition, ensuring the appropriate care is in the right setting at the right time, with the right caregivers in place. Many of those services have been moving to the outpatient world and into the community. But we’re recognizing what the demands of those needing acute care will be in the next few years.
Rural health systems are looking to establish partnerships with their local colleges, doing some creative academic-practice partnerships, so that they can recruit and retain nurses for those areas. It’s hard to take a nurse who went to school in Boston, to, all of a sudden, offer them a job in Montana. The likelihood of the rural places being able to recruit those nurses — it’s a difficult proposition. Many of those rural areas are looking within their own communities to come up with creative practices.
Q: Is there an effort being made to encourage nurses — ones who might be considering retirement — to keep them longer?
Get nursing salary content you can use
Read It Today!
Q: How is the need for more inpatient care going to change soon?
Q: What about the need for nurses, specifically? Is there a danger of a shortage?
Q: What can be done to encourage nurses to take jobs in rural settings?
Q: Are nursing-degree requirements a fluid situation?
Q: Are there more specific areas where nurses are in a shortage?
On a couple of levels. Related to your previous question, from the Institutes of Medicine report that came out in 2010, it was determined at that time that the degree necessary for the nurses of the future would be their baccalaureate. But this is one of the factors that have made filling rural jobs difficult. This is where creative academic-practice partnerships come in, with two-year associate’s degree nursing schools and universities partnering with medical practices. This helps to guarantee that while nurses might be graduating from a two-year program, they’re also continuing on with their education, and doing so within the setting of a practice, so that they will achieve their baccalaureate degree. There’s also a need for APNs, particularly in the community setting. Many organizations are actively recruiting APNs. Rural areas are even struggling to fill openings for physicians, but they’re able to hire APNs to fill those roles in primary care. APNs are allowed more practicing privileges, depending on each state’s individual governing board, in terms of writing prescriptions or conducting medical tests.
Nationally, there’s an extreme shortage of nurses in critical care, emergency and ORs. Many healthcare systems are struggling to find enough experienced nurses to fill these roles. Recruiting newer nurses is something they can do, but it takes a significant amount of time to train those nurses and get them up to speed within their specialty.
Advertise with
© 2021 from Relias. All rights reserved.
1010 Sync Street
Morrisville, NC 27560