Kansas Nursing Workforce Center launched to address crises in nursing field

 Students training at University of Kansas School of Nursing, Salina. KUMC photo
 Students training at University of Kansas School of Nursing, Salina. KUMC photo


KANSAS CITY — The University of Kansas School of Nursing has announced the launch of the Kansas Nursing Workforce Center to address multiple crises in the field of nursing. This new center will be housed at KU School of Nursing in Kansas City, Kansas, but its purpose will be statewide — to foster collaboration among nursing stakeholders to address shortages of nurses and of nursing faculty.

“The nursing profession is in crisis, both nationally and in Kansas,” said Sally L. Maliski, Ph.D., FAAN, dean of KU School of Nursing.

Maliski said the problem is on track to get worse as the pandemic’s negative effect on nurses, combined with the number of baby boomers retiring, means that the entire profession is facing challenges at all levels like never before.

“Statistics show how critical the situation is,” Maliski said. “The Kansas Department of Labor’s 2022 Occupational Outlook report shows that by 2026, we will need more than 28,000 nursing assistants, 18,000 registered nurses and 6,000 home health aides. Rural Kansas hospitals are facing nursing shortages that could mean hospital closures.”

“As we saw the growing crisis of nurse and nurse educator shortages, we knew something had to be done to address this in a unified and collaborative manner.  Also, Kansas was one of only 10 states that did not have a nursing workforce center to help address this critical issue for Kansans,” she said.

KU School of Nursing hosted multiple conversations throughout the state with a wide variety of stakeholders before launching the Kansas Nursing Workforce Center. Amy Garcia, DNP, FAAN, associate clinical professor at KU School of Nursing, will be the center’s director.

“The Kansas Nursing Workforce Center will do things that matter,” Garcia said. “We will help people find their pathway to becoming a nurse. We will develop programs to help nurses find joy in their work. We will study the supply of, and demand for, nurses and provide reports to help communities find and keep the nurses they need. And we will convene schools, employers, associations and government to find better ideas to strengthen nursing and resolve the ongoing shortage of nurses.”

KU School of Nursing has provided initial budgetary and operational support, and it is anticipated that the center will pursue additional funding, including research and program grants, to support the efforts.

The Kansas Nursing Workforce Center will work collaboratively with employers, schools, professional associations and government and other agencies to strengthen the nursing workforce in Kansas.  The center will study the supply, demand and educational pathways of nurses, while also exploring ways to develop, sustain and retain the existing nursing workforce. The center also will educate organizations and policymakers about issues and policies affecting nurses.

This fall, the center will form an advisory board, with plans for additional expansion of the board in subsequent years. Garcia noted that to make lasting change, collaboration is essential. “These are systemic problems, and they are going to require systemic solutions,” Garcia said.

“Nurses matter,” Garcia said. “People trust nurses to be there when they are sick, injured or simply trying to be healthy. Nurses care for us at the beginning and the end of life. Every Kansan should have access to high-quality nursing care.  And nurses should have access to the education and support they need to excel in their jobs.”

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