SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A lot of great ideas came out of the West Virginia Nursing Workforce Summit in 2017, according to Aila Accad.

That’s why Accad, the executive director of the Future of Nursing West Virginia, joined forces with what she called the “thought leaders” of the nursing community in the state for the second annual summit on Friday in South Charleston.

The event is geared towards addressing questions and seeking solutions to the shortages and challenges facing the nursing workforce in the Mountain State.

“All of these great minds will be working on these questions,” Accad said. “That is why we are asking these questions, to come up with creative solutions.”

The crowd of deans and directors of nursing education, chief nursing officers from the hospitals, community leaders, staff nurses, and more gathered at the Hendrickson Conference Center.

The main issue being addressed is the challenges surrounding the nursing workforce and the faculty.

“It’s hard to keep those nurses at the bedside,” Accad said. “We have a bit of a shortage there and also faculty positions. We are not paying faculty at the level that they can get paid working in nursing. Staff nurses make more than faculty yet faculty have to have their doctorates.”

In the first summit in 2017, Accad said the group divided into four action teams. Those actions teams were heard from Friday morning as the afternoon session was filled with a World Café style brainstorming session, according to Accad.

The four action teams consisted of retention and recruitment of nurses in the inpatient setting, the pipeline of workers such as getting more students interested in nursing, facilitating pathways into different levels of nursing education, and some issues revolving around faculty.

Accad said everyone involved at the summit is focused on getting more faculty, paying faculty better as well as more creatively using the faculty already working.

In a survey done by the West Virginia Center for Nursing in 2016 on nursing programs, more than 35-percent of respondents said salary was the primary reason for nursing faculty departures in the last two years.

According to the West Virginia Center for Nursing, from 2015 to 2017 employment in the state for registered nurses, nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners have seen upticks, but there has been a decrease in total employment of licensed practical nurses and nurse midwives.

Mean salaries in most of those positions have increased in that period, according to the data.

The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Joanne Spetz, the director of the University of California, San Francisco, Health Workforce Research Center.

“This has brought West Virginia together,” Accad said. “Every hospital is working on their own workforce. Every school of nursing is working on their own but when we bring all those minds together, magic happens. It’s just fantastic the ideas that we come up with.”

More information on the summit and the Future of Nursing West Virginia can be found HERE.