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University of Iowa News Release

Dec. 8, 2003

UI, IDPH, Iowa Board Of Nursing To Track Nurse Workforce

The University of Iowa, along with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Iowa Board of Nursing, has begun a one-year pilot project to collect data on the nurse workforce in a 13-county region in north-central Iowa.

The collaborative effort, called the Regional Registered Nurse Tracking Pilot Project, will gather information on currently licensed registered nurses in this region, including demographics, education and the work settings in which the nurses provide patient care or other services. The goal of the project is to accurately determine the supply of, and demand for, nurses in all work settings.

The pilot project will focus on nurses currently working in Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw, Floyd, Franklin, Hancock, Hardin, Howard, Kossuth, Mitchell, Palo Alto, Winnebago, Worth and Wright counties.

The Office of Statewide Clinical Education Programs (OSCEP) in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine is administering the pilot project with a $227,00 contract with the IDPH, which is using grant support from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration. If successful, with additional funding the project eventually would be expanded to track the nurse workforce across the entire state of Iowa.

OSCEP, which also currently tracks all dentists, pharmacists, physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners in Iowa, will work with nurses, hospitals, clinics, area agencies and other nursing employers in the 13 counties to gather the nurse workforce information.

"Our office has been continuously tracking the supply of the major categories of health professionals in Iowa for many years," said Roger Tracy, assistant dean in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. "Only a couple of states have been able to master this important function. But no state - including Iowa - has attempted to track their nurse workforce due to the magnitude and cost of the task."

Tracy added, "If we are ever going to plan effectively for our nurse workforce requirements, we need to have a continuous accounting of the supply of, and demand for, registered nurses."

The IDPH Center for Health Workforce Planning will use the data to learn more about Iowa's working nurses, identify immediate workforce shortages and communicate findings to legislators, nursing leaders, educators and employers. The center also will play a central role in seeking funds to expand nurse tracking across the entire state.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5135 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, 319-335-8032, david-pedersen@uiowa.edu