The New Jersey Hospital Association has received a $732, 000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to help address the state’s mounting crisis in nurse shortages.

The grant, announced on October 28, launches a three-year initiative called Transforming Care at the Bedside, a program designed to train and support nurses so they can spend more time with their patients while increasing job satisfaction.

The shortage in nursing is in part due to a change in demographics — as one generation, the Baby Boomers, enters its senior years, the next, Generation X, is left to take over.

But Generation X is nowhere near the size of the Baby Boom generation, and the growing number of older patients is fast becoming too much for the younger generation to handle. Consequently, the nurses that do exist are working more and finding their jobs less rewarding.

Or, they are simply not being attracted to the field in the first place. “Because of the nursing shortage projections and the changing demographics of our society, we must change the environment in which nurses work to increase retention and decrease turnover,” says Aline Holmes, director of the NJHA Institute for Quality and Patient Safety, which will be in charge of the initiative. “We need to increase the amount of time nurses spend providing direct patient care and investigate ways to keep our more experienced nurses in the workforce longer.”

At the same time, Holmes says, nurses must maintain enthusiasm and a passion for caring for others.

To help achieve these goals, the TCAB is designed to provide education and training for front-line staff nurses, teach staff nurses how to increase the amount of time spent on direct care in their units, train nurse managers to help their staffs make any necessary changes to improve care.

According to the foundation, 47 hospitals in the state will take part in the first learning session for the implementation of the initiative, November 16 through 18.

“We plan to measure the effectiveness of TCAB by monitoring nursing retention and turnover rates, patient safety, and by surveying staff, managers, and chief nurse executives,” Holmes said in a written statement.

Barbara Chamberlain, president of BJC Consulting Services and nursing research consultant for Atlantic Regional Medical Center, will serve as program manager. Chamberlain, who just joined NJHA, earned her bachelor’s in nursing from Stockton State College, her master’s in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania, and her doctorate in nursing from Widener University.

— Scott Morgan

New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA), 760 Alexander Road, Box 1, Princeton 08543-0001; 609-275-4000; fax, 609-452-8097. Elizabeth Ryan, president & CEO.

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