Nurse consulting with a patient

Nurse consulting with a patient

The 2017 Nursing Workforce Report issued by the Hawaiʻi State Center for Nursing (HSCN) indicates that the number of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs)—or registered nurses with graduate education, specialized certifications and advanced nursing licensure—in the state has more than doubled since 2005.

HSCN sits within the School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. It serves all licensed nurses statewide through partnership and programs with all schools of nursing, and nursing employers and professional associations.

The rapid increase in the number of APRNs is good news for local consumers, given the critical shortage of primary care providers. More than half of all Hawaiʻi APRNs work in primary care-related specialties, such as family health, pediatrics or mental health. Many work in remote and rural areas and provide primary care services to parts of the state that are most severely affected by provider shortages.

This increase has been facilitated by enactment of legislation authorizing APRNs to work to the fullest extent of their education and training, allowing them to work as primary care providers skilled to perform health promotion, diagnose and manage acute and chronic illnesses, make referrals to specialized care, and prescribe treatments and medication.

While the number of APRNs has grown, the report also reveals evidence of a developing shortage of licensed practical nurses (LPNs) in the state. This shortage will most severely impact long-term and residential care facilities that employ more than one-quarter of all LPNs statewide.

State forecasts project that, by the year 2030, one in four Hawaiʻi residents will be age 65 or older. An aging population will likely increase the demand for long-term care, so a continuing decline in the number of practicing LPNs will be detrimental in responding to the demand.

“State-based workforce research and analysis is critical for the purposes of planning and policy-making,” said HSCN Director Laura Reichhardt. “As the largest licensed health-care workforce in the nation and in Hawaiʻi, nurses are engaged in care delivery in all settings and specialties in health care and in all geographic regions of Hawaiʻi. Nurses play a critical role in ensuring delivery of safe, quality health care for patients.”

The 2017 Nursing Workforce Report presents the results of a biennial survey of nurses working in Hawaiʻi. It includes detailed characteristics of the nursing workforce, including demographics, employment settings, practice specialties, academic preparation, areas of practice and intention to leave the workforce.

Hawaiʻi State Center for Nursing

HSCN, established by the state legislature in 2003, is dedicated to ensuring Hawaiʻi has a robust and well prepared nursing workforce, and believes that excellence in nursing practice leads to quality care for the people of Hawaiʻi. Through collaborative partnerships, the center provides accurate nursing workforce data for planning, disseminates nursing knowledge to support excellence in practice and leadership development, promotes a diverse workforce and advocates for sound health policy to serve the health-care needs of the people of Hawaiʻi.

—By Desiree Uyeda