Dr. Dina Swearngin EdD, MSN, RN Discusses How Nursing Industry Can Prepare For Years Ahead

Dina Swearngin

December 7, 2020

Dr. Dina Swearngin, Dean of Health Sciences, Professor of Nursing and a nursing education expert, believes that the federal government in conjunction with the healthcare industry and nursing colleges will need to be proactive to counter any potential shortfall in nurses. The need to close the gap between private practice and education salaries is a major hurdle that needs to be addressed.

“Thanks to the advancement of health care treatment modalities, the American population is growing older and healthcare in general is becoming more technologically advanced, but the overall system is strained,” Dr. Dina Swearngin says. “The supply of nurses needs to increase in addition to the retention of nursing faculty and veteran nurses at the bedside. In addition the American health care system leans to the reactionary acute care end of the spectrum and not the preventative care end. Until we shift this practice, the cost of health care in general will overwhelm the financial input to the system.”

The United States, among other countries, is facing a critical shortage of nurses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is projecting that the RN workforce will grow from 3 million in 2019 to 3.3 million in 2029. Yet as nurses retire and the American population ages, it’ll be hard to fill all these job openings. Dr. Dina Swearngin believes that the healthcare industry and nursing colleges will need to be proactive to counter any potential shortfall in nurses.

An in-depth study, the “United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast: A Revisit” projects that by 2030, the shortfall of nurses will reach more than half a million. As of 2019, the shortfall already weighed in at more than 150,000. Dina Swearngin has already seen the impact of the nursing shortage.

“In terms of job choice, now is an excellent time to be a nurse,” Dina Swearngin EdD argues. “There are countless job openings, as a nurse you can move to different cities with relative ease, or find a new employer if you’re not satisfied with your current one. At the same time, hospitals and other organizations are struggling to fill jobs. This means nurses either have to work longer and/or healthcare quality may decline.”

In order to head off potential problems, the nursing industry, including hospitals, medical practices, and nursing colleges, must prepare. Dr. Dina Swearngin believes there are plenty of steps the nursing industry can take to better position itself for the years ahead.

“It’s going to be a challenge, but one we can overcome,” Dr. Dina Swearngin claims. “Many colleges are turning away qualified nursing candidates because there aren’t enough faculty, clinical spaces, or qualified adjunct clinical instructors.The answer to the problem seems easy – just expand the number of students admitted – however, it’s the lack of other required entities and not the lack of students that faces us.”

CNN reports that 2017 roughly 56,000 qualified candidates were turned away from nursing school. Increasing capacity to educate more nurses is vital. Dina Swearngin also believes that online education will play a vital role for educating nurses.

Dina Swearngin Discusses Online Nursing Education

“Online education has become especially important amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dina Swearngin EdD says. “Regardless of the pandemic, however, generic licensure and graduate programs have been a flexible way for working nurse to complete degrees. Virtual simulation has become a great addition to education and we as educators are able to control clinical situations to provide a more in depth guided situation. Debriefing will add to the education of the situation and allows students to identify issues during self-reflection. While in person clinicals are extremely important simulation can boost a specific component that may not be available in the current patient population available to clinical students.”

 Another way to address the nursing shortage is to encourage more men to become nurses. Currently, only about 2 percent of nurses are men.

“As we expand nursing educational opportunities, we may need to attract more students,” RN Dina Swearngin says. “Right now, nursing is a female dominated field. By encouraging more men to become nurses, we can fill seats at nursing schools and help ensure workforce demand is met.”