Embrace change in education to solve shortage of nephrology nurses
SAN DIEGO — As the demand for nephrology nurses increases at a “staggering” rate, current nurses must be open to change as they actively participate in producing qualified candidates for the future, a speaker told attendees at the Nursing Practice, Management and Leadership Conference.
Mary “Beth” Mancini, RN, PhD, professor emeritus and senior associate dean for education innovation at the University of Texas, Arlington, said the shortage of nephrology nurses is one of the biggest challenges facing health care, with projections showing a 19% increase in registered nurses needed by 2022.
“We need more nurses,” she said. “We need them not just because of the health of the populations we serve, but also because of the aging of our profession,” she said. “We need to produce more nurses just to keep up and we need to produce more nurses to meet the demand. The goal is to have an adequate supply of appropriately educated, competent and confident providers.”
Mancini said the lack of access to a foundational education is a major contributor to the problem, noting that qualified applicants are frequently not accepted into nursing programs due to faculty shortages, lack of access to clinical sites and lack of funding. She proposed ways that nephrology nurses can “actively agitate” the education system to make changes, including serving on advisory committees for schools of nursing.
She said nurses need to be open to the idea of online education, stating evidence proves its efficacy and value as a tool to “reach more people.” Mancini said there is no evidence to suggest that more hours of clinical experience is beneficial. Since schools often have trouble getting clinical placements for undergraduates, lowering this requirement could help more students graduate with nursing degrees.
She said nephrology nurses can advocate to increase the number of undergraduate nurses that go to dialysis clinics, adding opportunities for clinical experience.
“When you think about what you do every day, is there any part that is directly addressing growing and developing the next generation of registered nurses, nephrology specialty nurses and advanced practitioners? ANNA [American Nephrology Nurses Association] believes this is a time of change and an opportunity to make things better. We need to do better every day. We are focused on continuous improvement because our patients and their families deserve it. When someone says, ‘no we can’t do that,’ ask this one simple question: ‘Under what conditions can it be done?’ The evidence says we need to change. How will we make it work from here?” – by Melissa J. Webb
Mancini M. Session 101. Presented at: American Nephrology Nurses Association’s Nephrology Nursing Practice, Management and Leadership Conference. Oct. 12-14, 2019; San Diego.
Disclosure: Mancini reports no relevant financial disclosures.