May 19, 2016

Meeting Sets the Stage for Improved Collection of Workforce Data

“In God we trust. All others bring data.”

That’s how one speaker, quoting the late statistician William Edwards Deming, reflected on the point of the historic meeting held in Washington, D.C., May 9-10.

For the first time, national nursing organizations and federal agencies that collect data on the nursing workforce came together to plan. The goal: to identify what is known and not known about the nation’s supply of and demand for nurses, as well as its education needs; and to lay the groundwork for continued collaboration on collecting more and better data. As the event’s agenda stated, those gathered were to:

  • Identify opportunities and challenges for accessing and sharing federal, state, and private nursing workforce data.
  • Propose policy solutions and actions to expand the collection and use of health workforce data.

The Campaign for Action choreographed the tightly scheduled day-and-a-half meeting at the urging of the Institute of Medicine, which emphasized the need for collaboration among organizations as critical to having comprehensive, accurate data about the nursing workforce available to policymakers, planners, and researchers.

Some 40 participants at the National Nursing and Health Care Workforce Data meeting included representatives of the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Department of Labor, the American Organization of Nurse Executives, the National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers, the National League for Nursing, the Institute of Medicine, as well as experts from universities and the field.

The group spoke of the many needs and priorities but chose, in a lively exchange during the closing hours, the priorities it felt most important to take on initially.  The meeting’s end was really the beginning: The last activity had been to form workgroups for the priorities all had agreed on.

A white paper summarizing findings will be distributed in the coming months.

Speaking of data

In the meanwhile, there are still openings for those wanting to attend a webinar covering the latest research on nursing workforce data, presented by Erin Fraher, PhD, MPP, director of the Program on Health Workforce Research and Policy at Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina. The webinar is May 23, 3 to 4. Register here.