Hawaii State Center for Nursing Established at School of Nursing & Dental Hygiene

Collaborative effort of Hawaii organizations to focus on strategic planning in addressing nursing workforce issues in Hawaii

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Dr. Barbara Molina Kooker, (808) 956-8522
School of Nursing & Dental Hygiene
Kristen Cabral, (808) 956-5039
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Jul 23, 2003

The Hawaiʻi State Center for Nursing at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa‘s School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene was established with the signing of HB 422 on June 24, 2003, by Governor Linda Lingle. The center will help to ensure that better data about nurses is available, and will ultimately help lead to the overall improvement of healthcare in Hawaiʻi.

In attendance at the ceremonial signing of the bill acknowledging the importance of nursing workforce issues in Hawaiʻi were representatives from many of the bill‘s key advocates—Hawaiʻi Nurses‘ Association, Healthcare Association of Hawaiʻi, State Board of Nursing, Hawaiʻi Government Employees‘ Association, Association of Nurse Executives, Hawaiʻi Pacific University and the UH Mānoa School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene. Their teamwork was critical in establishing the Center for Nursing.

The Center for Nursing will establish a strategic plan to address supply and demand for nursing, recruitment of younger and more diverse people into the profession, and retention of experienced practicing nursing personnel. Among the center‘s functions are to collect and analyze data, develop a plan for implementing strategies for recruitment and retention, and conduct research on best practices and quality outcomes.

"The center will proactively address issues of the state‘s current and future shortage of nursing personnel including recruitment and retention of nurses," said Stephani Monet, Acting Executive Director of the Hawaiʻi Nurses‘ Association.

The center is an outgrowth of the work begun by the Community Initiative on Nursing of Hawaiʻi (CINH), a regional project site of the Colleagues in Caring funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Over the past seven years, CINH gathered and analyzed data on the nursing workforce, and collaborated with community partners to begin addressing the nursing shortage and other pertinent issues facing the profession.

Dr. Barbara Molina Kooker, CINH Project Co-Director and Interim Dean of the UH Mānoa School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene states, "We are especially pleased the Healthcare Association of Hawaiʻi supported this legislation to address nursing workforce issues in the state."

Rich Meiers, President and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaiʻi, said, "Our nurses are such an important part of our healthcare team and it is our hope that the Hawaiʻi State Center for Nursing will successfully address the many issues affecting our nurses, particularly the shortage of nurses which we are facing now and over the next 10 years."

Kooker also extended a special thanks to the many nursing students who actively assisted in making this legislation a reality. "The Center for Nursing is an exemplar of nurses helping the community," said nursing student Imelda Leung.

Funding for the CINH project ended in June 2002 while the nursing shortage was projected to greatly intensify. "Our data show that on average, registered nurses in Hawaiʻi are three to four years older than those across the country, and 42 percent of them plan to retire by 2010," says Kooker. "The Center is modeled after similar centers across the country and we know that this model works."

"The state legislature and healthcare community knew it was urgent to act soon," said Kathy Yokouchi, State Board of Nursing Executive Officer.

"I acknowledge Senator Norman Sakamoto, Senator Rosalyn Baker, Representative Dennis Arakaki, and Representative K. Mark Takai for introducing and supporting this bill," said Kooker. "I applaud Govenor Lingle for her wisdom and vision in approving the legislation to establish the center. We at the School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene are eager to build the Hawaiʻi State Center for Nursing into a world-class center so that the people of Hawaiʻi can benefit from our work."