Solving the Nursing Shortage at the Specialty Level

February 7, 2024
"Solving the Nursing Shortage at the Specialty Level"

Emergency rooms, home healthcare, and other fields desperately need nurses. Adtalem’s hands-on partnerships are providing a solution. 

Nationally, nearly one in five nursing roles are vacant. For positions that are filled, the turnover is higher. The rates are 15.7% and 22.5% respectively, according to the 2023 National Healthcare Retention Report. This, coupled with the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections that positions for registered nurses will grow by 6% over the next decade, is creating a supply-and-demand crisis.

While the data represent the broad field of nursing, specialties like nephrology and surgical nursing, also feel that impact.  

“We believe in the generalist education model for nursing, but there is a role for specialties, and we want to help our students gain exposure to these and prepare them to be successful upon graduation,” says Dr. Danika Bowen, vice president of clinical operations and innovative strategies at Chamberlain University, which is part of Adtalem Global Education. 

Upon graduating and joining the healthcare system, we don’t want these students to be part of the first- and second-year turnover. That’s why we provide a hands-on clinical in the specialty, so students are with a mentor and immersed in a setting they are considering for a career.

A Breaking Point for Emergency Nursing  

One of the specialties most at risk for turnover is emergency nursing. According to an American Nurses Foundation report, 35% of emergency department nurses intended to leave their position within six months of the survey, the highest among specialties surveyed and nearly 13% more than the turnover rate for all registered nurses.

As a specialty, emergency nursing was the primary subject of a November 2022 open letter to President Biden in which 35 healthcare organizations and institutions co-signed a plea for the White House and national health and human services leaders to address a “breaking point” for hospital emergency departments.  

One of the letter’s co-signatories, the Emergency Nurses Association, is also addressing this challenge as the latest organization to partner with Chamberlain for its innovative Practice Ready. Specialty Focused.™ (PRSF) Nurse Education Program. Through the PRSF program, the association is bringing its subject matter expertise to Chamberlain to co-develop a specialized curriculum that exposes students to specialty fields alongside their generalist Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. The result is Introduction to Emergency Nursing, which will be offered for the first time in spring 2024.  

Practice Ready. Specialty Focused.™  

Creating PRSF options for Chamberlain students began through a partnership with the American Nurses Foundation’s Reimagining Nursing Initiative. Now the PRSF program delivers 16-week online modules with curriculum tailored specifically for learning foundational education and practical skills in perioperative nursing, home healthcare nursing, and nephrology nursing.

“What makes the program so special is the group that is coming together to address workforce shortages,” says Dr. Bowen, referring to leaders from the Emergency Nurses Association, the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), BrightStar Care, and DaVita. All are partners in developing the curriculum and program certification requirements for their respective specialty fields. They also hope to hire and retain students exposed to their specialties.

In order to solve this systemic problem, entire healthcare systems, professional associations, and schools of nursing need to be all working toward a common goal of reducing first- and second-year turnover rate. What makes this program so powerful is that triad addressing a known problem that is out there in the hopes of truly changing the face of nursing,

says Dr. Bowen.  

The hands-on experience and mentoring that students receive in clinical settings helps prevent the turnover in new nurses that exacerbates the nursing shortage.  

"The experience puts students in roles they could envision themselves actually in,” says Dr. Bowen. “Knowing that they have a particular path to go down gives them more direction, excitement, confidence and interest about what they are going to do with their career."

PRSF is proving popular with students. In Dr. Bowen’s initial conversations with ANF leaders, they anticipated about 300 students would complete the program over three years. By the end of year two, more than 1,000 had completed their 16-week courses with about 400 more students currently enrolled.

Need for Home Health Nurses is Quickly Outpacing Other Specialties

Introduction to Home Healthcare Nursing is available at 14 campuses and to students nationwide completing their degree online. Chamberlain’s programmatic partner, BrightStar Care, employs nearly 6,000 at-home registered nurses dedicated to providing assistance and care to individuals, their families, and their caregivers in their homes for patients across their lifespan.

Upon the online program’s completion, students will have spent approximately 96 additional hours in their course exposed to best practices and essential fundamentals of home health nurses. The online module is paired with an opportunity to be considered for a concentrated home health clinical rotation through one of BrightStar Care’s locations.

Shelly Sun, BrightStar’s CEO and founder, recently spoke about the new partnership during an appearance on McKnights Home Care Podcast: “We’re excited to be thinking outside the box ... Whether it benefits BrightStar directly with new graduates that can work for our brand, or just more nurses entering home health in general, it’s what our moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas are going to need to receive more care in the home. We want to be part of the solution, and awareness and education are part of the solution.”

Chamberlain and BrightStar Care are mutually working on expansions for the Introduction to Home Healthcare Nursing in 2024, with rollouts to more campuses and BrightStar Care onboarding more of their 380 national locations to offer the clinical experience to Chamberlain students.  

Long-term care operators are estimated to need 73% more registered nurses and 70% more licensed practical nurses to accommodate demand by 2030, according to a workforce survey.  

Nephrology Program Striving to Create Thousands of New Careers

Introduction to Nephrology Nursing, launching on 11 Chamberlain campuses in January 2024, covers a highly specialized area of practice that includes chronic kidney disease, hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, acute care, and transplantation.

During a November 2023 interview with Medium, Tina Livaudais, DaVita’s chief nursing officer, spoke about the partnership with Chamberlain and anticipated exposing roughly 6,000 students to the nephrology curriculum and clinical practicum, many of whom will go on to internship positions and potential future employment with DaVita: “These clinical internships will provide an immersive, clinical experience where nursing students work alongside DaVita caregivers to provide patient care. We anticipate that of the approximately 5,200 internships secured from the specialty curriculum, we will add roughly 1,400 new nurses to our workforce.”

Millions of Surgeries Increasing Demand for Perioperative Nurses  

Perioperative care focuses on providing comprehensive care to patients before, during, and after surgery, working in collaboration with surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare professionals to deliver comprehensive and patient-centered care.  

A study published in AORN Journal last year references American Hospital Association data to demonstrate the sheer demand of surgical procedures—28.4 million reported procedures in 2019—and the correlated demand for more specialized nurses that are turning over in a 12-18% range.

Introduction to Perioperative Nursing began in January 2022 and is now available through PRSF at all Chamberlain campuses. By expanding to a national offering, Chamberlain and AORN are opening access for students all over the country to expand their educational and professional opportunities and join a field that demands a new generation of workforce talent.

Take Cristian Fernandez, a senior at Chamberlain’s Miramar, Florida, campus who completed the program in October. In answering the call to become a nurse, Fernandez knew better than to pass up an opportunity to learn something new. When the PRSF program expanded to his campus, he was inspired to take part. Now he serves the community in which he grew up in South Florida.

"Cristian Fernandez at Miramar"
I immediately jumped on board, immersing myself in the world of perioperative nursing,” says Fernandez. “After participating in the program, I’ve fallen in love with it.

Cristian Fernandez, BSN ’23, in the black shirt in the back row, celebrates with graduates of the first Practice Ready. Specialty Focused.TM perioperative nursing class from the Chamberlain Miramar campus. 

For more information, email the Adtalem Global Communications Team: