New Regional Action Coalitions are getting off the ground in 10 states to help deliver on the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine’s groundbreaking report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Working in partnership with the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the coalitions will help advance key health care workforce-related issues at the local, state and national levels.
The Campaign for Action (CFA) is focused on preparing health professionals to lead change that will improve the health care system. In collaboration with AARP, CFA is enlisting support across the health care spectrum and engaging prominent leaders and organizations from government, business, academia and philanthropy.
The ten new coalitions are in Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, New Mexico, Utah, Virginia and Washington. They join five states where coalitions began work last fall: California, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey and New York.
The 10 new states were chosen from a pool of 20 applicants, as part of this second round of selections. “The uniqueness of each applicant’s coalition and their proven capacity were key factors in our selection of these 10 geographically diverse groups from across the country,” said Susan Reinhard, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N, senior vice president of the AARP Public Policy Institute and chief strategist for the Center to Champion Nursing in America. “They already have made great strides in their states, and their Regional Action Coalition applications reflected capable coalition leadership and clear goals and objectives, coupled with strong action plans.”
Each of the Regional Action Coalitions include a diverse group of stakeholders, and they already are addressing such issues as fostering interprofessional collaboration, ensuring the ability of all health care professionals to practice to the full extent of their education and training, strengthening nurse education and training, and increasing the participation of nurses as leaders. The campaign also will draw on the coalition members’ experiences to help identify best practices, determine research needs and identify replicable models.
“The Campaign for Action must work at every level if we are to initiate and sustain the changes necessary to improve health care for all Americans,” says Susan B. Hassmiller, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., RWJF’s senior adviser for nursing. “Our new coalitions will help shoulder this effort. They are essential to fulfilling the campaign’s mission.”
A Closer Look at the States
The new Regional Action Coalitions are now developing and beginning to implement action plans tailored to their states. The Utah coalition plans a statewide announcement of its selection on April 6, tied to a keynote address from Hassmiller at the National Student Nurses Association annual convention in Salt Lake City. Working with other leaders of the still-growing coalition, Judy Geiger, M.B.A., R.N., B.S.N., president of the Utah Organization for Nurse Leaders, is making preparations for a gathering of a wide range of stakeholders to help set priorities. “We’ll discuss what’s going on in the state and map our assets, trying to identify where we already meet the recommendations from the IOM report,” she says. “Then we’ll choose specific goals and priorities.”
Geiger expects that those priorities will include working with local educational institutions to make it easier for nursing students to transition seamlessly from A.D.N.-granting institutions to B.S.N.-granting colleges and universities. Another likely topic: improved data collection about the nursing workforce in the state. “We’ve got very strong A.D.N. programs,” Geiger says, offering an example. “But we don’t really know where we are relative to the goal of having 80 percent of our nurses have B.S.N. degrees.”
The new Indiana coalition will launch with a statewide nursing summit on April 1. “We plan for the Summit to create a broad engagement of individuals and stakeholders,” says Donna Boland, Ph.D., R.N., A.N.E.F., president of the Indiana Nursing Workforce Development Center board of directors. “We want to engage in a conversation with our colleagues and allies from across that state, and we’re hoping to gather their opinions about efforts we might undertake in different regions of the state.”
“It’s great to have the Regional Action Coalition designation for Indiana because it recognizes the work going on in the state to advance health care to address the needs of citizens,” Boland says. “And it allows us the opportunity to focus more attention on activities that are going to lead to better quality care outcomes. That’s really our focus. Whatever we do, we want to ensure that we’re doing things that facilitate quality care outcomes.”
In New Mexico, Pat Boyle, M.S.N., R.N., of the New Mexico Center for Nursing Excellence, says the organizations that are currently part of her state’s coalition are already active on nursing workforce issues. But the designation as a Regional Action Coalition is helping the coalition grow. “I got a call today from another nursing organization saying they want to be engaged,” she says. “This is really an opportunity to pull it all together. We’ve had things going on around the state on a number of issues. But this is chance to coordinate our efforts and to engage more with our non-nursing partners in the state.”
On the agenda in New Mexico is developing a plan for nursing education that involves a common nursing school curriculum, shared faculty resources across institutions, shared technology and more. Boyle also hopes to expand on an existing nurse residency program, with the goal of developing a “plug and play” program that would facilitate residencies in any nursing practice.
More Regional Action Coalition states will be named in the future. In the meantime, states not yet selected for Regional Action Coalitions will still have support from the Campaign for Action. They’ll be able to access campaign materials and communications tools that will help them in their efforts to bring about change in their states. Says Hassmiller, “We are glad to see such enthusiastic interest from the states in becoming Regional Action Coalitions, and look forward to reviewing additional applications and again expanding the Regional Action Coalition community this summer.”