A Focus on Community Health Could Shape Nurse Recruitment

In the growing global environment, there is a constant desire to address “big pictures” or develop “large-scale” solutions. New research from the Oregon Center for Nursing (OCN) continues to say local, regionalized solutions may be more effective when it comes to nurse recruitment and retention.

“OCN has been looking at the distribution, or maldistribution, of nurses across Oregon for several years,” said Research Director Rick Allgeyer. “We know that nurses are not evenly distributed, and certain regions and work settings have a more difficult time recruiting and retaining a nursing workforce.”

OCN’s latest study builds on its maldistribution work and looked at the association between the size of the nursing workforce and community health. The University of Wisconsin’s County Health Rankings compile more than 30 measures to help communities understand the current health status of their residents.

OCN’s study showed county health rankings are associated with the size of the nursing workforce across Oregon’s counties, so as the size of the nursing workforce increases, the health rankings for a county improve. This suggests a larger nursing workforce is associated with better health metrics and better access to care.

As OCN investigated the individual indices that make up the county health rankings, there was an interesting result. Nurses practicing in ambulatory and long-term care were associated with good health outcomes for health behavior and socio-economic factor indices, while nurses practicing in other settings and the overall nursing workforce were not.

“We need to conduct more research to understand why and how nurses in these settings have an impact on community health,” said Executive Director Jana Bitton. “Communities seeking to address social determinants of health, specifically healthy behaviors and socio-economic factors, may want to target nurse recruitment efforts to ambulatory and long-term care settings.”

OCN plans to submit its latest study to a peer-review journal for consideration.

Media Contact: Jana R. Bitton, MPA
Executive Director