Responding to Unprecedented Workforce Challenges

Nurse leaders throughout our region have grappled with workforce challenges for years. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing issues and introduced new demands that are making it harder than ever before to recruit and maintain a nursing workforce that supports safe, effective patient care.

In 2021, 75% of the ONL members who responded to our Member Assessment indicated it was ‘extremely important’ that ONL address nursing workforce challenges in the region. We heard you and responded to this call to action, intensifying and accelerating our multi-year focus on the nursing workforce to drive regional solutions to this critical issue.

Nursing Workforce Report: Challenges and Solutions during the COVID Era

ONL convened a regional think tank to inventory nursing workforce challenges and gather best practices and strategies to address them. These leaders convened during the summer of 2021 and again at ONL’s Fall Quarterly Meeting. The result of this effort is a report titled Nursing Workforce Report: Challenges and Solutions during the COVID Era. It breaks down the current challenges with nurse recruitment and retention, provides insights on compensation, and offers advice for leveraging metrics, evidence-based strategies, and emerging ideas to retain and engage the nursing workforce.

Download the Report >>

Nursing Workforce Report

A Sustained Voice for Licensure Flexibility

ONL has long advocated in support of decreasing regulatory barriers associated with state-based licensing. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many states issued executive or emergency orders to allow interstate nursing practice. ONL has continued to lend support and influence to have these orders adopted into legislation.

  • NURSE LICENSURE COMPACT (NLC): ONL continues to work toward regional adoption of the NLC. The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, an independent state agency, sought out ONL’s perspective for its analysis of the NLC. It concluded that the Commonwealth’s entry into the NLC could increase access to care, improve quality, and lower costs of care. Additionally, ONL members have been providing testimony in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
  • GRADUATE NURSE PRACTICE: Utilizing any and all qualified practitioners was a priority during the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, organizations in NH and CT had the flexibility to hire newly graduated nurses into nursing roles. Executive orders during the pandemic allowed MA and VT to use graduate nurses in similar ways. ONL is now working with various stakeholders to determine what the use of Graduate Nurses will be moving forward.

Increasing Funding for Nursing Workforce Development

In March 2022, the United States Department of Labor invited ONL to participate in a roundtable of nurse leaders from practice and academia. This event gave ONL the opportunity to voice support for allocating federal funds to the development of the nursing workforce with members of Secretary of Labor Martin J. Walsh's team.

Support for State-Based Workforce Task Forces

  • CONNECTICUT CENTER FOR NURSING WORKFORCE: ONL is supporting and engaging with leaders to advance the important work being led by the Connecticut Center for Nursing Workforce, which works toward a robust, sustainable, diverse and exceptional healthcare workforce in Connecticut.

    Sustainability is part of a statewide effort to tackle the nursing shortages in Massachusetts. ONL is partnering with the NCWS to create a statewide advisory board and participate in the development of a charter, strategic plan, and implementation plan to achieve the Council’s goals.

Supporting New Nurses Entering Practice during the Pandemic

New Nurse Transition Report

The pandemic served as a catalyst to convene a task force co-led by the Organization of Nurse Leaders and the Massachusetts Rhode Island League for Nursing. Together we produced a comprehensive report titled, Supporting New Nurse Transition into Practice During the Covid-19 Pandemic - Opportunities for Academic & Practice Nurse Educator Collaboration. It includes actionable strategies that can be implemented between academic and practice partners to collaboratively support new nurses’ transition into practice during the pandemic. ONL and MARILN also co-sponsored weekly online forums for new grads to connect with expert RNs throughout the pandemic.

Download the Report >>

Paid Family Medical Leave of Absence: Policy Analysis

PFMLA Analysis

Though the implementation of paid family and medical leave provides benefits to workers and is an important tool for supporting employee wellness, it has been a significant challenge for nurse leaders who are working tirelessly to maintain staffing levels. ONL provided an analysis of PFMLA in the New England region along with guidance on anticipating the potential impact.

Download the Report >>



 Patient Care LinkAmerican Organization for Nurse Leadership