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05/18/2018

The Current State of Nursing Care: A Conversation with Dr. Barbara Ihrke (May 16th)

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Nurses, today numbering over four million, represent the largest segment of the healthcare workforce and deliver the majority of direct patient care.   Their role in determining care quality (and safety) cannot be under-estimated.  Absent adequate nursing care patients can face a long list of nonfatal and fatal outcomes.  The profession however suffers a number of challenges due in part to both an aging population and one that is increasingly co-morbid.  For example, not only are hospital patients more sick (i.e., have higher acuity) but because of financial pressures their lengths of stay have decreased.  Among other issues facing the profession are the increasing demand for nurses (there's presently a nurse shortage that is only expected to grow worse), the increasing demand for higher educational attainment, increasing administrative burdens (that takes away from their ability to provide direct care), an aging nurse population, career burnout, long standing/persisting scope of practice issues that limits their ability to "practice to the top of their licence" and the lack of nurses in organizational leadership positions. 

During this 27 minute conversation Dr. Ihrke discusses nursing education, the nurse shortage, nurse job satisfaction, scopes of practice issues and the under-representation of nurses on hospital and related health care institution boards.   

Dr. Barbara Ihrke is currently Vice-President for Academic Affairs, School of Nursing, at  Indiana Wesleyan University.  She Ihrkehas been on faculty at Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) since 1994 as Professor, Division Chair, and Executive Director before serving as Dean of the School of Nursing in 2010.  Dr. Ihrke's research focus includes trans-cultural experience and spiritual care.  Her writings have also covered nursing education, clinical informatics and nurse leadership.  Dr. Ihrke overseas work includes serving on an IWU research team that studied Zika on the Island of Gonave, Haiti.   Dr. Ihrke received her doctorate from Purdue, her Masters in community health nursing from IWU and her undergraduate in nursing from St. Cloud School of Nursing.  She earned another under graduate degree in Missions from Crown College and a certificate in Tropical Medicine. 

Cited during  this interview are research findings, in part, by the National Academies of Science, see, for example, "The Future of Nursing: Focus on Education (2011): http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2010/The-Future-of-Nursing-Leading-Change-Advancing-Health/Report-Brief-Education.aspx. 

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