Massachusetts Healthcare Organizations Team With Johnson & Johnson to Address State Nursing Shortfall

:Massachusetts Healthcare Organizations Team With Johnson & Johnson to Address State Nursing Shortfall

@head:BOSTON -- With an unprecedented shortage of nursing professionals threatening the quality of healthcare, a coalition of Massachusetts hospitals, health systems and nursing organizations is joining with Johnson & Johnson to raise an estimated $550,000 for scholarships and grants to help attract more people to nursing in hospitals and extended care facilities in the region.

According to a recent study by the Massachusetts Hospital Association and the Massachusetts Organization of Nurse Executives, the state is experiencing a 10 percent vacancy rate, the highest in almost 14 years. This shortage is projected to reach 29 percent by 2020. Compounding the problem, enrollment in the state nursing schools offering bachelor degrees dropped 56 percent between 1994 and 1998 to 943 applicants.

"Area hospitals are facing an immediate and long-term shortage of nurses at the same time that the region's population is growing and more older residents are in need of greater levels of medical attention," said James J. Mongan, MD, president and CEO of Partners Healthcare System. "An intensified focus on attracting more people to nursing is essential so that our hospitals will be prepared to serve the people of this region and the growing number of patients in the future."

The state nursing shortage mirrors a national shortfall of nurses now estimated at 126,000 in hospitals alone. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unless action is taken quickly, the national shortage of registered nurses in all health care facilities could triple to more than 400,000 by 2020.

Massachusetts' nursing shortage also has major ramifications for the economic health of the state where the healthcare industry comprises the majority of the state's workforce. Roughly one job in seven is in the healthcare industry and 20 percent of the jobs are in the medical and research professions.

"With the healthcare industry making up the largest part of the Massachusetts workforce, we are eager to work with other health institutions to find ways to attract and recruit more candidates to join this vital profession," said Eileen Sporing, MSN, RN, senior vice president for patient care and chief nursing officer at Children's Hospital.

As a way of taking action in Massachusetts, 12 area hospitals, healthcare institutions and nursing organizations are working with Johnson & Johnson to establish a new scholarship and grant program. Scholarships will benefit area residents entering undergraduate and graduate nursing education programs, and grants will assist nursing programs. Scholarships for area nurses who wish to become nursing educators will help reduce a major shortage of faculty in nursing schools. According to state and national nursing authorities, increasing the enrollment in these programs is an essential step in recruiting more qualified nursing professionals to the field.

Jeanette Ives Erickson, RN, MS, senior vice president for patient care and chief nurse, Massachusetts General Hospital, said "Especially now, when nursing offers career opportunities in every aspect of the healthcare system, we need to provide the stimulus and the resources so that many more residents will be able to enter this dynamic and rewarding profession. This scholarship program is one important way that the nursing profession can attract and train the leaders for the future."

To fund the regional scholarship and grant program, the coalition has organized a fundraising gala for this evening. Underwritten in total by Johnson & Johnson, The Promise of Nursing for Massachusetts Gala will be attended by more than 700 members of the regional business and healthcare community as well as area political leaders.

"Throughout Johnson & Johnson's history, we have always supported the nursing profession as a vital component of quality health care," said James T. Lenehan, vice chairman of the board and president of Johnson & Johnson. "We consider nurses the essence of caring and believe it is critical to help resolve the deepening nursing shortage, at the national level by assisting in the communities across the country where the impact is especially acute."

The Promise of Nursing for Massachusetts Gala is part of a nationwide nursing recruitment campaign -- The Campaign for Nursing's Future -- that Johnson & Johnson announced in February of last year. In addition to the scholarship fundraising efforts, the Johnson & Johnson campaign entails national advertising, the distribution of new recruitment materials to more than 20,000 high schools and 1,500 nursing schools, and a comprehensive Web site ( with a searchable database for nursing schools and more than 300 nursing scholarship programs. Johnson & Johnson has committed more than $20 million to fund this campaign over the next two years.

The Promise of Nursing for Massachusetts Gala will take place in the grand ballroom of the Park Plaza Hotel and will raise an estimated $500,000 for nursing in Massachusetts. In all, at least six galas are planned by Johnson & Johnson and area health organizations throughout the U.S. before the end of the year and are expected to raise more than $3 million to benefit nursing.

The organizations that comprise The Promise of Nursing for Massachusetts Steering Committee are: Massachusetts General Hospital, Baystate Health System; Brigham & Women's Hospital, Children's Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts Organization of Nurse Executives, Massachusetts Hospital Association, McLean Hospital, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, North Shore Medical Center, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, William F. Connell School of Nursing at Boston College and Bouve College of Health Sciences, School of Nursing, Northeastern University.

Johnson & Johnson, with approximately 108,300 employees, is the world's most comprehensive and broadly based manufacturer of healthcare products, as well as a provider of related services, for the consumer, pharmaceutical, and medical device and diagnostic markets. Johnson & Johnson has 198 operating companies in 54 countries around the world, selling products in more than 175 countries.

Source: Johnson & Johnson