OHSU School of Nursing Gets Federal Funding

10/28/03    Portland, Ore.

The Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing has received a $600,000 federal grant to help alleviate Oregon's shortage of both practicing nurses and nursing faculty. The money will be used to prepare a new group of ethnically diverse and clinically experienced nurses to serve as faculty, clinical instructors and community preceptors throughout the state.

"It is absolutely critical that we resolve the nursing shortage. This grant represents an unprecedented collaboration between community colleges, clinical partners throughout the state and OHSU School of Nursing," said Christine Tanner, R.N., Ph.D., associate dean for statewide undergraduate programs in the OHSU School of Nursing.

The funding comes from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health. The money was requested specifically to increase nursing faculty in rural and underserved areas of the state. A series of graduate courses will be available to registered nurses working in rural areas and with underserved populations. Emphasis will be placed on recruiting qualified nurses from diverse backgrounds. Courses will be offered in either a post-master's certificate or a post-baccalaureate certificate for preceptors. In addition, current nursing faculty may enroll in courses to augment their skills in teaching. A nurse preceptor is a working professional who takes on the added responsibility of training student nurses. The students spend a period of time with a preceptor to see and learn firsthand what the nursing profession entails.

The courses will be delivered in classrooms and also through distance learning. This project is expected to train about 100 new nursing faculty, and augments the education of existing nursing faculty.

"This will have a significant impact on our ability to increase the number of new nurses being trained, which is extremely relevant considering that about half of Oregon's 37,000 registered nurses will reach retirement age in the next 10 years," Tanner said.

Oregon is experiencing a severe nursing shortage. Reasons for the nursing shortage mirror those nationwide; however, the state of Oregon is disproportionately affected by many factors contributing to the shortage. The 2002 HRSA report, Projected Supply, Demand, and Shortages of Registered Nurses: 2000-2020, projects that in 2010 the demand for registered nurses in the United States will exceed the supply by 12 percent. At that time, in Oregon, demand will exceed supply by 22 percent, leaving nearly one in four registered nurse positions unfilled. The documented need for nursing faculty in Oregon is just as severe, making it even more difficult to meet the projected health care work force needs of the state.

Oregon's aging population contributes to the growing magnitude of the state's nursing shortage. The U.S. Bureau of the Census has projected Oregon's population to grow 23 percent between 2000 and 2020. During this time period, the population older than 65 is projected to grow by 91 percent. Oregon's nursing workforce is also aging. The Oregon State Board of Nursing reports that, as of June 2002, 42 percent of Oregon's registered nurses are aged 50 or older, reaching retirement age in the next decade. Fully 76 percent of Oregon's registered nurses are now aged 40 or older (this includes those aged 50 and older). By 2025, when this entire group reaches retirement age, the U.S. Bureau of the Census projects that Oregon will have the fourth highest proportion of elderly in the nation.

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