John Carroll’s Future in Nursing

John Carroll University will launch a BSN nursing program beginning in the Fall of 2023.

As President, it will be my responsibility to ensure that John Carroll University goes above and beyond fulfilling the strict regulatory and administrative requirements. As our nursing team grows, we will focus on one question: what will distinguish the John Carroll University nursing program? How will John Carroll nursing graduates not just thrive, but have an outsized impact on patient outcomes and safety, and lead the profession?

Meeting a Persistent Need

In January 2021, NSI Nursing Solutions, Inc. surveyed more than 3,000 hospitals, the nation’s most comprehensive look at current and future healthcare employment. The survey reports that 39.8% of hospitals expect to increase their RN staff. In 2020, the turnover rate for staff RNs increased by 2.8% to reach 18.7%. As the Covid pandemic persists and, in many places expands, that number will surely grow in both size and impact.

According to the NSI Nursing Solutions survey, the average cost of a single turnover for a bedside RN is $40,038. That translates to an average hospital loss of between $3.6m – $6.5m/yr. Each percent change in RN turnover costs/saves the average hospital an additional $270,800/yr.

The survey also finds that hospitals are experiencing a higher RN vacancy rate — up one point to 9.9%. Less than a quarter (23.9%) of hospitals report RN vacancy rates under 5%.  More than one third (35.8%) report vacancy rates above 10%. The RN Recruitment Difficulty Index stands at 89 days on average, regardless of specialty. In essence, it takes 3 months to recruit an experienced RN.

Pandemic Impact on Generation Z Nurses

The COVID-19 pandemic coincided with the first wave of a new generational cohort in the nursing workforce—Generation Z graduates born between 1997-2000. Early data from a large study — Nurse Wellbeing at Risk — suggests that the encounter has taken a toll worthy of everyone’s attention.

The study indicates that 57.3% of Generation Z nurses report that COVID-19 negatively impacted their overall well-being. Gen Z nurses stand out from the older peers as  the least likely (23.5%) to report effectively managing work-related stress and anxiety or to decompress after work (19.2%).

Few of us have been spared some emotional or psychological impact from Covid, including the basic challenges of self-care (eat, sleep, exercise, social connection). The Nurse Wellbeing at Risk findings reminds us how easy it is for young nurses to ignore personal priorities when caring for others.

As we imagine a new nursing program, we should give careful thought to clinical excellence and personal resiliency, knowing the challenges of stress, compassion fatigue, grief management, and self-care that await future John Carroll University nursing graduates.

Can Spirituality Improve Resiliency?

At the same time that industry organizations were gauging how well hospitals and particular health professions were responding to the extraordinary challenges of a pandemic, a group of researchers from AdventHealth, the largest not-for-profit Protestant health care provider and one of the largest non-profit health systems in the nation, were asking an even more far-reaching question. Do the personal religious and spiritual beliefs of individual nurses predict responses to those same factors: stress, compassion fatigue, grief management, and self-care?

The study asked a group of 207 nurses to complete a 32-item validated instrument — the World Health Organization Quality of Life—Spirituality, Religion and Personal Beliefs — that assesses eight facets of religion, spirituality, and personal beliefs as they impact quality of life.

The surveyed nurses represented a range of faith and no-faith backgrounds: the largest cohorts being Catholic (25.6%), Protestant (27.5), and Christian/non-denominational (33.3%), along with Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and agnostic/atheist.

The findings conclude that while satisfaction, retention and well-being among those in the nursing profession involve both internal and external factors, a strong link can be found between personal religious and spiritual beliefs of individual nurses and resiliency.

The AdventHealth study authors echo the findings of the other reports as to the vulnerability of  early career stage nurses to high burnout and low self-care. They go on to advocate for spiritually based interventions to bolster mental well-being as a burnout prevention strategy among BSN nursing students or new graduate nurses. Both patients and the profession would benefit, as up to one third of nurses leave direct care by the second year of nursing.

John Carroll University enjoys a distinct advantage in asking how best to bring proactive strategies to the work of educating and preparing Generation Z nurses. We know that future nurses will engage questions, contemporary and eternal, when they integrate a foundation of core academic learning with state-of-the-art clinical preparation and training.

Consider the reflections of JCU alum Megan Berarducci MS, ACNP, a 2008 philosophy graduate who works as a Neuroscience ICU Acute Care nurse practitioner: Megan says: “Philosophy taught me how to think, to see other perspectives, and to be open to other ways of thinking. I use that critical thinking on a regular basis as an ICU nurse practitioner, taking in critical information, weeding through the facts quickly and finding solutions to problems in order to help save lives.”

She continues: “My JCU core learning also helps me in dealing with patients and their families, reading situations and responses in order to better relate to them and guide them through making difficult decisions about the care we provide and quality of life they may have. It helps in dealing with coworkers, allowing me to see that even in disagreements there is a common goal, and to better guide the conversation to ultimately find solutions.”