Live From AONL 2024: Virtual Nursing is Unsurprisingly Top of Mind

By G Hatfield

After day one at AONL 2024, it’s clear that nurse leaders and executives have a few common goals in mind to tackle workforce concerns.

Virtual nursing

It’s no secret that the largest issue facing nursing today is staffing. CNOs are working hard to lower turnover rates by improving recruitment and retention efforts, and many of them are incorporating virtual nursing as a way to do that.

At AONL 2024, Linda Alderson, chief nurse executive at Tacoma General and Allenmore Hospitals, and Jennifer Graham, chief nurse executive at MultiCare Health System, spoke about how they are incorporating virtual nursing and robotics into their care models. Alderson and Graham estimated that once fully integrated, the new care model, which involves a bedside RN, a LPN, a CNA, a virtual nurse, and a robot, with save the health system $2.2 million per unit per year.

Leadership development

Another way nurse leaders are confronting the staffing shortage and other workforce issues is through leadership development. As more nurses retire from the industry, CNOs need to create mentorship programs for newer graduate nurses so that they can become acclimatized to the workforce and also so they can become the next generation of leaders.

So far, the program has seen great successes, according to Kirk, in encouraging nurses to continue with their career and leadership development, with 59% of participants having expanded their roles or involvement with the health system since engaging with the program.

More workforce trends

Many leaders were also focused on shared governance, workplace violence prevention, social determinants of health, and the public perception of nursing. There is also growing concern about the number of graduating nurses who are entering the workforce, which ties into the staffing shortage as well.

However, there is hope.

Nurse and healthcare economist Dr. Peter Buerhaus spoke about the latest research on the staffing shortage, which predicts that the nursing industry will grow by 1.2 million RNs through 2035 if entry into the workforce continues at recent levels.

CNOs everywhere will have to wait and see if that happens, in spite of the many challenges that will appear along the way. In the meantime, AONL 2024 continues, so stay tuned for more coverage.

G Hatfield is the nursing editor for HealthLeaders.