How the Moore Foundation Is Tackling the Nurse Shortage

Most of us are aware of the seemingly never-ending shortage of nurses. This problem is expected to worsen in the near future due to an expected increase in the demand for nurses following health-care reform and the shift to a greater emphasis on preventive care (requiring significantly more work from health-care personnel). The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has been on this issue for a decade now, and it keeps making major grants to address the nursing shortage. (See Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation: Grants for Hospitals and Medical Schools.) One of its biggest recent grants was $2.2 million to the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies at Vanderbilt University.

This money will allow the center to undertake empirical research on how new models of care delivery and the growing focus on preventive care are likely to impact the nursing workforce. Right now, researchers don't have much data from which to make predictions about the nursing workforce, which is where the Moore Foundation hopes it can make a difference. Peter Buerhaus, a leading researcher on health-care workforce issues, will oversee the work at Vanderbilt. Beyond being an RN and a PhD, Buerhaus is closely involved in national health policy as chair of the National Health Care Workforce Commission, which was created by the Affordable Care Act. The commission has yet to do much because of Congressional obstructionism, but that's another story. The point here is that Buerhaus knows health-care labor issues inside and out. As usual, the Moore Foundation is putting its money behind the very best talent it can find.

The Moore Foundation got into the nursing area in 2003 when it established the Betty Irene Moore Nursing Initiative to tackle the nursing shortage and improve the quality of nursing care in San Francisco and Greater Sacramento. The foundation has donated more than $100 million in 100-plus grants to the initiative, which included the launch of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at the University of California. Furthermore, the initiative has enabled more than 2,000 nurses and other frontline health personnel to receive much-needed training. It also has improved the quality of care in more than 80% of adult acute care hospitals in San Francisco/Greater Sacramento.

The Moore Foundation's annual giving totals roughly $250 million and goes to four major areas: patient care, environmental conservation, science, and the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to nursing research, the foundation's patient care program focuses on patient engagement, quality improvement, and relational approaches to health care. (See Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation: Grants for Public Health.)

As a major grantmaker (one of the top 10 foundations in the United States), the Moore Foundation is worth serious consideration if you specialize in one or more of its patient care topics. However, note that Moore appears to favor university/research-oriented organizations in its donations and does not accept unsolicited applications. Your best tactic is to get on the foundation's radar through some serious networking. Key program staff includes Marybeth Sharpe, Ph.D., program director for the Betty Irene Moore Nursing Initiative.