Impact of COVID-19 on Nursing Education
Posted: March 16, 2020
As Oregonians anticipate and react to COVID-19 developments, the Oregon Center for Nursing (OCN) is focused on helping our partners navigate the workforce issues inevitably raised by the newly declared pandemic.
A key part of educating future health care workers is clinical education and internships which provide students with practical experience required for graduation and licensure in their respective disciplines. COVID-19 is driving many universities and colleges to transition to online courses when possible and close campuses when necessary. Additionally, health care organizations across Oregon are deciding how to effectively protect patients, preserve resources and deploy staff in their facilities during this unprecedented time. All of this has the potential to impact nursing education in our state.
Today’s nursing students are the front-line nurses of tomorrow. Delays in education programs due to a potential lack of clinical placements or instructors could worsen nursing workforce shortages and maldistribution in Oregon. A backlog of students waiting to complete nursing school impacts those students, and those waiting to start nursing school.
Statistics Regarding Nursing Education in Oregon:
In the 2018-2019 school year, there were 732 nurse educators employed as faculty and instructors in Oregon’s nursing programs. Half of instructors were age 60 and older, placing them at high risk of complications from COVID-19.
In the 2018-2019 school year, approximately 3,500 students were enrolled in Oregon pre-licensure nursing education programs. Programs graduated 1,555 students during the school year.
What does it all mean?
Given Oregon’s current demands for nurses, pipeline disruptions have the potential to exacerbate localized nursing shortages leading to higher patient mortality rates, increased medication errors, overcrowded health settings, and delays in accessing care.
Organizations across the state are faced with difficult decisions in an environment where information and circumstances are rapidly changing. With the pressing need for more nurses to meet the growing needs of Oregonians, it’s vital to continue to support nurse education. Educators, health care organizations and the state’s regulatory agencies must proactively consider innovative solutions to preserve the nursing education pipeline in Oregon. The actions they take today will impact on the health care workforce of tomorrow.
As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, OCN will actively explore nursing workforce data and examine how decisions being made now impact the nursing workforce of the future.
COVID-19 and Workforce Planning
Posted: March 12, 2020
The attention of the state, nation and world is laser-focused on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). While we monitor the development of the virus in our communities, we are also hearing from our health care partners about their dedicated efforts to respond to this new disease and assist affected community members.
Media have reported staff from various organizations have been affected by exposure to the COVID-19 virus. From a workforce planning perspective, we offer the following statistics to help you navigate your nursing workforce in response to COVID-19.
Nurses are the largest segment of Oregon’s health care workforce, with an estimated 42,500 registered nurses and 3,800 advanced practice registered nurses practicing in the state.
Early studies have shown that individuals over the age of 60 have an increased risk of serious illness if exposed to COVID-19.
23% of Oregon’s registered nurse workforce is 60 or older.
71% of Oregon’s registered nurses work in hospital and office/clinic settings where exposure to COVID-19 may be higher.
18% of those nurses are age 60 or older.
11% of Oregon’s registered nurses work in skilled nursing or home/health hospice settings where they will be working with vulnerable populations.
29% of those nurses are age 60 or older.
What does it all mean?
COVID-19 will undoubtedly have an impact on the availability and accessibility of staff. Organizations should already be looking at strategies to prevent unknown exposure including utilizing telehealth services when possible, redistributing staff to protect workers from vulnerable populations and ensuring everyone has up-to-date information on COVID-19 prevention strategies.
As this global pandemic continues to evolve, the Oregon Center for Nursing will be examining how it impact our local nursing workforce and access to care.
If you have specific questions, or would like to share how your organization is responding to COVID-19, please click here.