Strong Memorial Hospital Will Evaluate Impact of Lift Program on Nurses

February 07, 2007

Strong Memorial Hospital has been awarded a $75,000 grant by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to help test new ways of keeping experienced nurses on the job in hospitals. Strong Memorial Hospital is one of 13 across the country selected by the Foundation to participate in its new program, Wisdom at Work:  Retaining Experienced Nurses, which will begin to build an evidence base for what works to help hospitals hold on to qualified nurses.

Under the 18-month grant, Strong Memorial Hospital will evaluate the impact of a minimum lift program on nursing staff satisfaction and retention. The minimum lift program incorporates several initiatives designed to decrease the frequency of injuries that result from lifting and moving patients during the delivery of care and increase staff nurse satisfaction with the work environment. The program, which was a collaborative approach undertaken by the hospital’s Nursing Practice Department and Department of Environmental Health and Safety, uses lift devices, a lift team, safety nurses, education, and expert consultation to reduce the number of injuries related to lifting patients.

"o ensure patients receive safe and high-quality care, hospitals need to find effective ways to keep experienced nurses,” said Deborah Spratt, R.N., M.P.A., the hospital's director of value analysis will lead the project.  “We are pleased to be a part of this exciting and innovative program that the Foundation has just launched.”

According to the most recent national nursing workforce survey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the average age for registered nurses in this country is almost 47 years. Forty-six percent of practicing nurses over age 50 work in hospitals. These demographics pose serious health care implications for the nation, especially in light of projections that more than 650,000 new jobs in nursing will be created over the next decade. Yet, according to a study by Linda Aiken, the Claire M. Fagin Leadership Professor in Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, an estimated 450,000 nurses will have retired during that time. By 2020, the nurse shortage is expected to increase from its current level of 150,000 to 800,000. 

“Nursing is at the heart of patient care,” said Nancy Fishman of the Foundation. “This project is part of a national movement to expand our understanding of how we can hold on to good, experienced nurses by providing solid, outcomes-based evidence that will help hospitals across the country develop effective retention strategies.”

The Foundation has identified a number of promising retention interventions in a paper called Wisdom at Work: The Importance of the Older and Experienced Nurse in the Workplace (www.rwjf.org/files/publications/other/wisdomatwork.pdf.)  For more information on the Wisdom at Work program, visit www.rwjf.org.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with diverse groups of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change.

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