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Quality Corner: Continued Education for Today’s Generational Workforce

Did you know that there are 4 generations of individuals involved in today’s workforce?  Did you know that each generation has specific motivating factors that are important to them when pursuing a career or choosing to remain employed? These items, as well as topics focused on supporting healthy organizations from the ground up, were the highlights of the 2023 Center for Nursing Workforce (CNW) Symposium and Iowa Healthcare Collaborative (IHC) Annual Forum held the week of May 8, 2023.

Michelle Hofer, BSN, RN, CPHQ, Clinical Improvement Consultant for SDAHO attended both events. “There was such good information present at both conferences—specific details that really relate to today’s workforce and important considerations for keeping the current workforce motivated and driven to do their best.”

Specific to the 2023 CNW Symposium, hosted by the South Dakota Board of Nursing on May 9, were statistics on the current state of nursing education programs in South Dakota and the employment characteristics of nurses in South Dakota. LPNs and RNs in our state continue to see a “slow leak,” with new nurses coming aboard and not keeping up with the number of nurses leaving the profession due to retirement, moving out of the state or inactivation of the license. According to the 2022 National Nursing Workforce Study, “Nationally, 100,000 registered nurses and 34,000 licensed practical and vocational nurses left the workforce over the past two years specifically due to the pandemic.” In addition, the study indicated that 62% reported an increase in their workload during the pandemic.  45-56% reported feeling emotionally drained, used up, fatigued, and burned out a few times a week, and 29% reported feeling at the end of their rope a few times a week to daily. The South Dakota Board of Nursing also reports that nursing programs in the state are not able to fill all the open seats for students.

The keynote speaker for the CNW Symposium was Chuck Underwood, a nationally known expert on generational dynamics. Throughout his presentation, he highlighted the four generations in the current workforce: Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z, and the major events that shaped these generations. He also identified generational workforce management strategies to enhance intergenerational workforce harmony.

These wheels were created by IHC staff to supplement the small group table top exercises as part of sessions on Day 1 of the IHC Annual Forum

May 10-11, 2023, Hofer attended the IHC Annual Forum. This 2-day event involved healthcare professionals from multiple states and included presentations on topics such as high reliability, health equity, person and family engagement, rural healthcare, and behavioral health. In addition to hearing from speakers on these topics, participants were divided into small groups for interactive tabletop discussions following each speaker for idea sharing and brainstorming. “This was a very fun and engaging day. Not only did we hear motivating presentations from knowledgeable speakers, but we then got to put what we learned into action by immediately discussing each topic. The collaboration and sharing of ideas throughout the room was invaluable.” Michelle Hofer, RN, BSN, CPHQ, Clinical Improvement Consultant, SDAHO

Besides the tabletop discussions and sharing, Hofer commented on the importance of sustainable improvements. “One of the speakers mentioned that efforts to improve and seeing the improvement cannot be the end, the effort must be sustainable. Once we create the will to change, our efforts need to become highly reliable by sustaining that change.  We can’t afford not to.” Michelle Hofer, RN, BSN, CPHQ, Clinical Improvement Consultant, SDAHO

Day 2 of the IHC Forum featured breakout sessions in the areas of leadership, clinical, and community, as well as keynote speaker, Benjamin Anderson, MBA, MHCDS, Vice President for the Rural Health and Hospitals Colorado Hospital Association. Anderson spoke about his time as CEO of Kearny County Hospital in Lakin, Kansas and his influence on staff, including key recruitment and retention strategies, which allowed physicians and patients within his organization to experience some impressive improvements and outcomes. His work is featured in a podcast titled, Creative Recruiting Helps Rural Hospitals Overcome Doctor Shortages, featured on National Public Radio’s (NPR) All Things Considered.  “Mr. Anderson’s experience as CEO of a hospital in one of the most remote areas of the nation is certainly applicable to the critical access hospitals in South Dakota. His approach is genuine, and I can see how it is effective.” Michelle Hofer, RN, BSN, CPHQ, Clinical Improvement Consultant, SDAHO

Listen to the podcast here.

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