Challenges to the future growth of allogeneic blood and marrow transplants (BMT)—currently, more than 20,000 are performed annually in the United States alone—include workforce shortages and lack of adequate infrastructure, according to a presentation during the Oncology Nursing Society 36th Annual Congress.

To address the ability to meet these future needs, the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), with support from the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) BMT special interest group (SIG) and the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT) Transplant Nursing SIG, sponsored a series of symposia, the System Capacity Initiative (SCI), said Elizabeth Murphy, RN, EdD, Patient Services, National Marrow Donor Program, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and colleagues.

The goal of the SCI Nursing Workforce workgroup is to identify benefits and challenges of BMT nursing and to develop recommendations to support BMT nurses and address workforce issues.

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Initially, ONS and ASBMT SIG members completed an Internet survey from July 16 to August 5, 2010; results of this survey provided primary data. Participants included nurses in the United States who were not advanced practice professionals. Descriptive analysis and weighted rank scoring was performed using SPSS.

The survey was sent to more than 1,600 BMT nurses with a response rate of 9% (n=148). Respondents were predominantly white (88.2%), female (95%) staff nurses (60.3%) with a bachelor’s degree (56.8%) practicing within BMT for more than 10 years (43.3%). Overall, 95% of respondents were very satisfied or satisfied as a BMT nurse. The following aspects were ranked as most satisfying: providing physical care (weighted score = 72), hope/promise that transplant offers (69), and nurse-to-patient ratio (69).

The top challenges facing BMT nurses included: working in an increasingly challenging environment (111), staying abreast of scientific advances/changes in BMT (63), recruiting/hiring sufficient number of nurses (59), and balancing demands of work/personal life (59). More than 70% indicated they planned to advance their nursing degree.

The survey also found 61% of respondents indicated their institution was planning to increase the number of transplants performed annually; 25% reported there are often open nursing positions in the inpatient unit; and most often, nurses became interested in the BMT profession because the unit had an open position (51%).

Results of this survey will be used to provide recommendations to transplant centers and academic and professional organizations to address future workforce challenges and promote BMT nursing as a career choice, Murphy noted. The final product of the SCI workgroup will contribute to future technology, treatment, and services that drive the field of BMT.