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Study: New York Hospital RNs Report Increased Challenges, Lack of Adequate Training
Rise in patients per nurse, decrease in adequacy of staffing cited by state's nurses

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Contact(s):  Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 30, 2008) -- Registered nurses working in New York State hospitals experienced increased challenges within the past year, according to a report by The Center for Health Workforce Studies (CHWS) at the University at Albany-SUNY's School of Public Health. Hospital RNs cited several challenges in their nursing practice, including increased patient turnover, need for second language skills and RN turnover, as well as a decrease in adequacy of staff.

"This study confirms what we've recently been hearing from the field -- the practice of nursing is difficult, and becoming more so," said Jean Moore, director of CHWS. "In order to retain a nursing workforce adequate to meet the health care needs of an aging population, we need to pay attention to the issues facing hospital RNs, and use the available data to support the development of effective retention strategies."

The report also found that 40 percent of hospital RNs expressed interest in advanced education in nursing, though only 10 percent were currently enrolled in programs leading to advanced nursing degrees. Barriers to pursuing advanced nursing degrees included family responsibilities (53 percent), need for financial aid (49 percent) and conflict between course and work schedules (44 percent).

The report, The Hospital Nursing Workforce in New York: Findings From a Survey of Hospital Registered Nurses, examines findings from a survey of registered nurses working in public and private hospitals primarily located in the New York City metropolitan area. The report is designed to help better understand the state's hospital nursing workforce, particularly because of the growing concern over the nursing shortage.

Other key findings include:

  • About 22 percent of downstate RNs and six percent of upstate RNs were foreign-trained, compared to four percent nationwide.
  • Nearly 42 percent reported working 12 or more hours per day. 
  • Racial/ethnic differences in RN salary were found that were not accounted for by years worked as an RN.  Non-Hispanic, white RN salaries in downstate hospitals were greater than their minority counterparts at almost every level of experience.  
  • Only 15 percent entered the nursing workforce in the last five years. 
  • Three-quarters of RNs reported no plans to leave their current nursing job within the next three years, and only 5 percent planned to leave their nursing job within the next six months.        
  • Of those planning to leave their current nursing job, most expected to take another position in nursing in New York State.  Less than half planned to retire, move out of the state, or otherwise permanently leave the state workforce.  
  • 71 percent of downstate hospital RNs believed that patient care computer technology helped them to provide better quality care.
  • The median RN salary in upstate hospitals was $62,263, while the median RN salary in downstate hospitals was $77,218.

The Center for Health Workforce Studies at the University at Albany's School of Public Health conducts studies of the supply, demand, use and education of the health workforce, and collects and analyzes data to understand workforce dynamics and trends.

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