According to a new study, thousands of patients in rural areas of the state may not receive high-quality medical care in the future if the number of out-of-state nurses practicing in Oregon continues to decline.
Research found that rural healthcare settings are the most dependent on out-of-state nurses, putting them at higher risk of a nursing shortage.
“Oregon’s smaller counties may not be able to recruit enough registered nurses to fill needed positions,” the study said.
The study, published earlier this month, was conducted by the Oregon Center of Nursing at the University of Portland. Jana Bitton, the center’s executive director, said the research stemmed from concerns that the state was not training enough nurses.
“That means we’re going to be short every year,” Bitton said.
The center found that Oregon needs 2,500 new nurses each year to ensure hospitals and clinics are fully staffed. But in 2020, Oregon’s nursing programs only graduated 1,200. The state imported nurses from other states to fill the void, but it appears to be losing its ability to attract as many as he needs it, according to the study.
Nearly 45,000 nurses practice in Oregon. Since 2012, medical facilities across the state have increasingly relied on nurses whose out-of-state licenses are approved by the Oregon Board of Nursing, the study found. In 2020, they represented around half of the workforce. But their numbers are falling.
“Fewer, both proportionally and numerically, endorsing RNs appeared to be practicing in the state,” the study said. This means it may become more difficult for healthcare companies to fill their nursing workforce gaps by attracting nurses from out of state.
Oregon’s smaller counties may not be able to recruit enough registered nurses to fill needed positions.
– Oregon Center for Nursing study
If this trend continues, border and rural counties would face the greatest shortages because they have the most difficulty attracting Oregon-trained nurses, according to the study.
“It has a lot to do with salary,” Bitton said. “It has a lot to do with the incentives that some of our larger employers, especially those in the Portland area, can offer. And it also has a lot to do with community.
Many new graduates want to live in an urban environment, Bitton said. They also want to debut in an acute care setting like a hospital emergency room in urban areas. Unable to hire as many Oregon graduates as they need, rural areas are increasingly reliant on hiring nurses.
“That’s where the shortages are going to show up,” Bitton said.
The study analyzed the proportion of out-of-state nurses in hospitals and clinics. He revealed that two-thirds of the nurses at the clinics come from out of state.
“This reliance on RN endorsement from other states puts non-hospital settings at a higher risk of not (being) able to recruit enough RNs to meet staffing needs,” the study found. .
The research follows legislation approved earlier this year that allows senior nursing students to practice without a full licence. While they are still in training, they will be able to replace other nurses by assuming some of their duties.
Lawmakers also allocated $200 million for workforce training programs for rural residents, low-income Oregonians and people of color, among others, to work in care. health, technology and manufacturing.
But those measures won’t guarantee Oregon has a stable nursing workforce, Bitton said.
“There’s no single solution that can really guarantee that we have all the nurses we need,” Bitton said. “It’s going to be solved by a million different little solutions to be able to get us to a stable and strong nursing workforce.”
The center strives to expand Oregon’s nursing programs. But training new nurses — at community colleges or universities — takes time.
This issue is on Congress’s radar. On Wednesday, U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici, D-Oregon, will participate in a panel discussion on Oregon’s nursing shortage. She will be joined by educators and students from the Center for Nursing, Oregon Health and Science University, Linfield University, Warner Pacific University and George Fox University. . They will discuss ways to expand nursing education in Oregon. Bonamici is co-Vice Chair of the US House Nursing Caucus.
Over the past two years, many nurses have left the profession or retired because the job has become increasingly stressful, Bitton said.
“We’ve had quite a bit of turbulence within the nursing workforce over the past couple of years,” Bitton said.
She hopes policymakers pay attention to the new study and other research that points to a bleak future if the state doesn’t find a way to stabilize the workforce.
“A decline in the number of nurses moving to Oregon or an increase in the proportion of registered nurses not practicing in the state could have serious implications for the ability to provide high-quality health care in timely to Oregonians,” the study said.