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Journey Towards Becoming a Mindful Leader

Feb 2, 2015, 11:35 AM, Posted by Teri Pipe, PhD, RN

Mindfulness zen garden

In our fast-paced, overcommitted world, our typical automatic first response—to be better multitaskers and problem solvers—often leads to increased stress and reduced satisfaction. As leaders—especially in the high-stakes, quickly changing health care sector, we focus our attention outwardly on the well-being of others. We’re faced with a number of competing priorities, interruptions, and distractions that too often get the best of us. It seems that, for many, the noisy world has taken up residence within us.

As a nurse focusing on gerontology and oncology, I learned to help others find what was most important during times of bittersweet transition, prioritizing where and how their energy was spent. Through my clinical research experiences, I learned that the perception of stress, rather than a specific circumstance, could just as easily lead to physiologic consequences. I also observed how some people used their challenges to become more resilient, while others weakened.

Because of these experiences, the ideas of resiliency, mindfulness, and caring began shaping my research questions and investigations. My research and my work with my nursing colleagues showed me that teaching self-awareness, compassion and attention-focusing practices can reduce stress, build resilience and extend the positive impact of nurses and other leaders, including their ability to care for patients, strengthen communication, mentor others and lead successful organizations.

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Rare Mettle

Dec 9, 2014, 9:00 AM

For the 25th anniversary of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP), the Human Capital Blog is publishing scholar profiles, some reprinted from the program’s website. SMDEP is a six-week academic enrichment program that has created a pathway for more than 22,000 participants, opening the doors to life-changing opportunities. Following is a profile of Rachel Torrez, MD, a member of the Class of 1990.

Rachel Torrez

The year was 1992. Rachel Torrez, a second-year medical student, was in line waiting for coffee at the University of Washington when a White male student confronted her.

“You took my best friend’s spot because of quotas,” he sneered.

The granddaughter of Mexican migrant workers, Torrez enrolled at a time when students of color were few and some people—especially in Washington state—were questioning the fairness of affirmative action. Clarence Thomas, an outspoken opponent of affirmation action, had recently joined the Supreme Court.

“We don’t have quotas,” Torrez shot back. “I took your best friend’s spot because I was smarter.”

That mix of brains and backbone is characteristic of Torrez, who conquered severe dyslexia and cultural constraints on her way to an MD. Now a family-practice physician in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, Torrez gives as good as she gets.

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Conference to Focus on Integrating Policy into Nursing Curricula

Nov 24, 2014, 9:41 AM

Hotel Del Coronado The Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego

The conference will feature interprofessional panels of speakers who will discuss strategies to develop faculty and student expertise in policy analysis and research. Panel topics will include:

  • shaping health policy leadership through doctoral nurse education;
  • exercising health policy leadership through nursing and community organizations;
  • strategies for enriching doctoral health policy education; and
  • integrating health policy content into doctoral nursing programs.

The conference supports RWJF’s work to promote a Culture of Health across America. It aims to support faculty in preparing students to address health policy issues, developing programs of research that relate to health policy, and integrating an understanding of social determinants of health into policy analysis and research.

More information on the conference is here and registration is here.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.

The Legacy of PIN: Strengthening Long-Term Care in Arkansas

Nov 21, 2014, 9:00 AM, Posted by Chris Love

PIN Logo

As PIN holds its final national meeting this week, the Human Capital Blog is featuring posts from PIN partners about the program’s legacy of encouraging innovative collaborative responses to challenges facing the nursing workforce in local communities. PIN is an initiative of the Northwest Health Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

Chris Love

The PIN journey with Arkansas Community Foundation and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), among other partners, has been one of both providence and progress. It was in the fall of 2008 that we were approached by leaders from UAMS with the idea for us to become partners with them in this endeavor.

At first, the idea seemed daunting. Then, after some consideration by our senior leadership, it became an open door for opportunity—an opportunity to leverage the structure and resources of our foundation to complement the expertise of our colleagues and friends at UAMS to address a major issue of mutual concern: the aging population in our state and the significant shortage of adequately prepared nurses to care for that population. Not long into the partnership, our organizations realized this would be a match made in heaven.

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Stony Brook Helps Veterans Become Nurses

Nov 11, 2014, 1:00 PM, Posted by Lori Escallier

Lori Escallier, PhD, RN, CPNP, is a professor and associate dean for evaluation and outcomes at the State University of New York at Stony Brook School of Nursing. She is her university’s project director for a program that helps veterans earn baccalaureate degrees in nursing (VBSN) and for New Careers in Nursing, a program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) that supports second-career nurses in accelerated master’s and baccalaureate nursing programs.

Lori Escallier

Human Capital Blog: Please tell us about your university’s program for nursing students who are veterans.

Lori Escallier: The project is entitled Enhancing the Nursing Workforce: Career Ladder Opportunities for Veterans. The purpose is to increase the enrollment, retention and educational success of veterans in the baccalaureate nursing program at Stony Brook. Our program operationalizes the collaborative efforts of the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by providing opportunities for veterans to transition into nursing careers.

HCB: How is the VBSN program helping to build a Culture of Health that more effectively serves veterans?

Escallier: One of the project’s aims is to enhance the nursing workforce with veterans. Veterans certainly have a good understanding of the needs of other veterans and their families. Who better to promote a Culture of Health for veterans than those who have “walked the walk?”

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Recent Research About Nursing, November 2014

Nov 7, 2014, 12:21 PM

This is part of the November 2014 issue of Sharing Nursing’s Knowledge.

DNP Programs Increasing

New research by the RAND Corporation, conducted for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), finds that the percentage and number of nursing schools offering doctorates in nursing practice (DNPs) has increased dramatically in recent years, but that some schools still face barriers to adopting programs that confer the degree.

Ten years ago, AACN member schools endorsed a call for moving the level of preparation necessary for advanced nursing practice from the masters to doctoral level, establishing a target of 2015. More recently, the Institute of Medicine’s landmark report on the future of nursing called for doubling the number of doctorally prepared nurses in order to help meet the demands of an ever more complex health care system.

According to RAND’s data, nursing schools are following through. Since 2006, the number of schools offering DNP degrees has grown by more than 1,000 percent, from 20 schools in 2006 to 251 in 2013.

The report finds that approximately 30 percent of nursing schools with Advanced Practice Registered Nursing (APRN) programs now offer degree paths in which baccalaureate-prepared nurses move directly to DNP programs, and that such BSN-DNP programs will likely be in another fifth of nursing schools with APRN programs in a few years.

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PSA of the Month: Getting Help for Kids with Learning Challenges

Nov 6, 2014, 2:34 PM

One in five children in the United States has a learning or attention challenge, often undiagnosed. Those challenges can contribute to kids falling behind in their classes or even dropping out of school. That’s not just an education problem. As the National Prevention Strategy from the Office of the Surgeon General shows, education deficits lead to shorter lives, poorer health and smaller incomes.

Recently, the Ad Council launched a series of radio, television and display public service announcements aimed at getting parents to go to Understood.org. The website is a collaboration of fifteen education and community partners that offers parents resources such as recommendations for trained area experts and tools parents can use to help their children with a range of learning challenges, including reading skills and comprehension.

The television ads show parents speaking commands into a smartphone, which mistakes their words and directs them to useless information—a proxy, and a pretty good one, for the frustration children facing learning challenges often feel.

>>Bonus Content:

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.

Achieving Impossible Dreams

Nov 3, 2014, 9:00 AM

For the 25th anniversary of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP), the Human Capital Blog is publishing scholar profiles, some reprinted from the program’s website. SMDEP is a six-week academic enrichment program that has created a pathway for more than 22,000 participants, opening the doors to life-changing opportunities. Following is a profile of Gloria Sanchez, MD, a member of the 1993 class.

Gloria Sanchez, MD Gloria Sanchez, MD

Can a person thrive in a community ravaged by poverty? Are seemingly impossible dreams attainable?

Gloria Sanchez, MD, grapples with these questions every day, both in her medical practice and while teaching aspiring physicians.

Sanchez is associate program director of the Department of Family Medicine at Harbor–UCLA Medical Center, a publicly funded hospital in Los Angeles. She also oversees UCLA’s PRIME MSIII Primary Care Longitudinal course, which trains medical students to be medical leaders in underserved communities.

The lives of patients Sanchez treats are shaped by social determinants of health—forces that dictate poor health outcomes based on ZIP code more than genetic code. Where you live, work, and play has a profound effect on individual, family, and community health, she says.

“How can someone who doesn’t have a level playing field still attain their goals?” she asks, citing research showing that the stress of social and economic disadvantage contributes to chronic disease. “Poverty can literally change your brain, and your health.”

Noting that Harbor–UCLA Family Medicine’s mission is to advocate for disenfranchised populations, Sanchez says, “That’s why I entered medicine. It may sound impossible, but I’m here to help people attain good health so they can achieve their dreams.”

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An Anthropological Approach to Medicine

Oct 31, 2014, 2:00 PM, Posted by Theresa Yera

Theresa Yera is a senior at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo. A project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, and Rutgers University, Project L/EARN is a 10-week summer internship that provides training, experience and mentoring to undergraduate college students from socioeconomic, ethnic and cultural groups that traditionally have been underrepresented in graduate education.

Theresa Yera

When I applied to the 2014 Project L/EARN cohort, I was seeking exposure to anthropological research that would lead me into a career of public health service. I wanted to pursue L/EARN because of my strong interest in anthropology and medicine. My previous experience in health care included studying for the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) examinations, volunteering as a Campus Health Educator (CHE), and participating in qualitative and quantitative research projects for almost three years.

The training as an EMT introduced me to patient and health care provider interaction and raised questions on streamlining the process. It also trained me to think critically and quickly, sharpen my leadership skills, and develop interview questions. Patients complained of many chronic and acute health problems that stemmed from their health behaviors and environment. The CHE initiative led me to value a community approach for health problems. In CHE, I worked to end racial disparities in organ donation and increase awareness of the need for organ donation and a healthy lifestyle. I met many individuals with personal stories that explained why they either did or did not want to donate.

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