of workforce development for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. Her state in particular has some of the highest health care costs in the country, which is why the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce made health care one of six planks in its Platform for Progress, a strategic initiative designed to give the state a more vibrant environment in which business can thrive. A partnership between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation led to the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI), which is working to ensure that New Jersey has the well-prepared, diverse nursing workforce it needs to meet the demand for nursing in the twenty-first century. The grant has supported several new and innovative projects through the NJNI, such as an online service to help prospective students interested in nursing apply to multiple institutions around the state using a single application, an online service to optimize the number of clinical placements for nursing students, and development of a remediation language center for students.
Egreczky said the nursing community needs to reach out to the business community to ensure that nurses are available to improve the quality of life for patients and communities. Engaging the employer community has several benefits; Egreczky described three of these benefits. First, business leaders can help elevate the discussion of the future of nursing from a health care argument to an economic development argument; for example, they can point out to policy makers that they will have to fire or not hire new people as health care costs increase. “And if we have learned anything in the last few months, under the current economic crisis, it is that nothing puts as much fear into a politician’s heart as the loss of jobs among the electorate. So use that to your advantage,” said Egreczky.
Second, the business community can advocate for nurses’ vision of the future. Nurses can use the high costs of health care—in terms of direct costs, lost productivity, and days away from work—to engage the interests of business leaders. Business leaders need to know that the looming crisis being generated by these costs is both “foreseeable and avoidable.” However, they will not get involved unless the nursing community is unified. Egreczky also cautioned against asking the business community to support actions that would raise taxes or fees and she suggested approaching small, young companies as well as large, established companies in building support for nursing. Egreczky said, “When you seek a spokesperson, consider recruiting the president of a small company that is truly representative of the world of business and there-