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Experts Explore Solutions to Nursing Shortage, Skills Gap

University of Phoenix Research Institute convenes nursing leaders to envision the next-generation nursing workforce

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the U.S. will need to add 580,000 nurses to the workforce by 2018. Moreover, these nurses will need higher skill levels than current nurses possess.

“Critical Conditions: Preparing the 21st-Century Nursing Workforce”

The Institute of Medicine recommends that 80% of registered nurses hold a bachelor’s degree or higher by 2020. Yet only half of nurses now have this credential. Experts say the nursing shortage and skills gap jeopardize our nation’s ability to provide care, especially for the aging population.

To explore these issues and possible solutions, on Tuesday, June 21, the University of Phoenix Research Institute sponsored the expert panel event, “Critical Conditions: Preparing the 21st-Century Nursing Workforce,” at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Hosted by The Chronicle of Higher Education, the event attracted academic and industry leaders with a wide range of expertise in nursing education, practice, and policy. Panelists included nursing school deans, healthcare executives, and technology experts. They addressed educational and policy strategies to advance a new generation of competent and compassionate nurses.

“Academia needs to partner with organizations employing nurses to ensure that students are learning the skills employers need today,” said panelist Dawn Bazarko, senior vice president for the Center for Nursing Advancement at UnitedHealth Group. She noted that the nation’s hotly debated nursing shortage is a “paradox” because “many graduates can’t find employment.”

Some educators believe the future of nursing depends on recruiting more men and minorities into the profession. Panelist May Wykle, nursing dean at Case Western Reserve University, described her institution’s community outreach program in which nursing students work with underserved schoolchildren and teenagers to get them interested in a nursing career.

Panelists discussed the role of technology in preparing nurses to be more efficient while not losing the “human touch.” One of the most important benefits that technology can provide nursing students, said Parvati Dev, president of Innovation in Learning, Inc., is a “library of virtual experiences that it would take years for them to acquire in real life.”

Moderator Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, vice president and managing director of the University of Phoenix Research Institute, presented preliminary findings from current research on nurses’ technology skills related to electronic health records. “The research shows that higher education must do more to help nurses develop technical skills to improve the quality and efficiency of care,” she said.

Educating the next-generation nursing workforce requires adaptable educational models, said Pamela Fuller, dean of the University of Phoenix College of Nursing. “Many nurses have heavy family and work obligations, and need education that fits their full schedules,” she said. “Educators need to provide flexible options for taking classes, whether on-campus or online.”

Other panelists included Carlton G. Brown, president of the Oncology Nursing Society; Maureen Swick, senior vice president and chief nurse executive, Inova Health System; Athena Palearas, corporate vice president of education, Fresenius Medical Care North America; and Kristy Chambers, cofounder and principal partner of Medical Simulation Design.

Drawing on current research related to nursing education, technology and workforce skills, panelists explained what actions today can ensure a healthier tomorrow for the nursing profession.

The University of Phoenix Research Institute will publish a special report on the event in fall 2011.

About University of Phoenix Research Institute

Affiliated with one of the largest providers of higher education for working adults, the University of Phoenix Research Institute conducts scholarly research on working learners, higher education, and industry to improve academic outcomes and promote a more prepared workforce. Visit

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help students balance education and life in a rapidly changing world. Through flexible schedules, challenging courses and interactive learning, students achieve personal and career aspirations without putting their lives on hold. University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit


for University of Phoenix Research Institute
Norma Kelly, 818-509-0575
Ellen Georgiou, 818-678-9659


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  1. Pingback: Universities Turn to Outsourced Instructors «

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