An effort is underway to ensure Iowa’s nursing workforce is properly prepared to meet an increasingly complex and sophisticated health care system. Rita Frantz, Dean of the University of Iowa College of Nursing, is co-leader of the Future of Nursing Iowa Action Coalition.
The work in Iowa and other states follows recommendations contained a 400 page report from the Institute of Medicine. Frantz says the report suggests 80% of the nursing workforce be prepared with a bachelor’s degree by 2020.
“Right now, nationally, 50% of registered nurses are prepared with a bachelor’s degree or higher,” Frantz said. “In Iowa, it is only 26%. So, Iowa has a long way to go to meet that recommendation.” A task force is working on ways to increase the number of bachelor’s degree prepared RNs in Iowa.
Frantz said the task force is hoping to develop a “unified program” so aspiring nurses can complete some of the requirements for a bachelor’s degree at a community college and then “seamlessly” move into another academic program for the remaining course work. Another Institute of Medicine recommendation calls for all hospitals and organizations that employ new nurses to have a residency program.
There are currently very few such programs in Iowa. Frantz believes there are only three or four hospitals in Iowa with nursing residency programs to help nurses with the transition from being a full-time student to a career. A summit is scheduled for Monday (July 9) in Des Moines where health care officials plan to discuss ways for hospitals to implement nursing residency programs.
Iowa has more than 45,000 registered nurses.