Category Archives: Education level

Sep 20 2012

A Personal Reason to Applaud an Important Advance for Academic Progression in Nursing

By Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Senior Adviser for Nursing and Director, Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action.


Those of us who are working to implement recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, got great news this week when leaders from national organizations representing community college presidents, boards, and program administrators joined with representatives from nursing education associations to endorse a Joint Statement on Academic Progression for Nursing Students and Graduates.  This was a historic moment that will mean greater support for efforts to help nurses advance their education.

Acknowledging the shared goal of preparing a well-educated, diverse nursing workforce, the consensus statement says that nursing students and practicing nurses should be supported in their efforts to pursue higher levels of education. Its endorsing organizations are the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the Association of Community Colleges Trustees (ACCT), the National League for Nursing (NLN), and the National Organization for Associate Degree Nursing (N-OADN).

In addition, Donna Meyer, MSN, RN, the president of N-OADN, an affiliated council of AACC, published a powerful commentary in Community College Times. In it, Meyer voiced support for allowing every associate degree nurse access to additional nursing education and urged employers and others to develop innovative strategies to help associate degree nurses get higher degrees.

All this had special meaning for me, because I started my career at a community college.  It was a terrific experience for me, and I am very proud of that degree. I felt confident and prepared to complete all the tasks required of me when I entered the workforce.

But I quickly realized there was more I wanted – and needed – to know to provide high-quality care for my patients. So I went back to school, and soon felt the increased competence, and confidence, at every turn.

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Aug 29 2012

Meet the New Jersey Nursing Initiative

This is part of a series introducing programs in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Human Capital Portfolio.

New Jersey has a staggering 10.5 percent vacancy rate for nurse faculty.

If those positions are not filled, nursing schools may have to turn away prospective students, which would exacerbate the shortage of nurses required to meet the state’s growing health care needs. That shortage could have a significant negative effect on health and health care in New Jersey.

Additionally, many faculty at New Jersey nursing schools are approaching retirement, and there are not enough people in the pipeline to fill the positions. The situation is dire, but a relatively young statewide initiative is working to change that.

The New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) is a multi-year, multi-million-dollar project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation. NJNI’s goal is to increase the number of nurse faculty in the state, so there will be enough nurses to meet the health care needs of New Jersey residents.


Since its launch at a state Senate hearing in May 2009, the initiative has prepared young nursing scholars to take on leadership roles and has brought the issue of the nurse faculty shortage to the attention of policy-makers, businesses, academia, and health and community leaders.

Its signature Faculty Preparation Program is preparing 61 RWJF New Jersey Nursing Scholars to become the next generation of nurse faculty in the state. Of those, at least 21 will be doctorally prepared candidates.

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Aug 23 2012

Nine States Receive RWJF Grants to Build More Highly Educated Nursing Workforce

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Academic Progression in Nursing (APIN) program this week announced that California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Washington state have been chosen to receive grants to advance state and regional strategies aimed at creating a more highly educated, diverse nursing workforce. Each state will receive a two-year, $300,000 grant. 

The states will now work with academic institutions and employers on implementing sophisticated strategies to help nurses get higher degrees in order to improve patient care and help fill faculty and advanced practice nursing roles.  In particular, the states will encourage strong partnerships between community colleges and universities to make it easier for nurses to transition to higher degrees.

In its groundbreaking report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended that 80 percent of the nursing workforce be prepared at the baccalaureate level or higher by the year 2020.  At present, about half of nurses in the United States have baccalaureate or higher degrees.

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May 8 2012

National Nurses Week 2012 and New Jersey

Happy National Nurses Week! The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has a proud history of supporting nurses and nurse leadership, so this week, the RWJF Human Capital Blog will feature posts by nurses, including leaders from some of our nursing programs. Check back each day to see what they have to say. This post is by Susan Bakewell-Sachs, PhD, RN, PNP-BC, interim provost for The College of New Jersey, and program director of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative, a project of RWJF and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation.


The American Nurses Association theme for National Nurses Week 2012 is “Nurses: Advocating, Leading, Caring.” It emphasizes critical areas of focus for professional nursing in New Jersey and the nation that align well with the 2010 Institute of Medicine report entitled Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. National Nurses Week is an opportune time to highlight nurses and nursing and the scientifically proven contributions that our profession makes to improve health and patient care.

It is also a good time to talk about what we still need to make happen to improve health and health care. For one thing, we must continue to push for more registered nurses to earn advanced (masters and doctoral) degrees. This is essential for nursing practice, education and research. We need many more advanced practice nurses for primary and specialized care, more nurse educators to prepare nurses for the future, and more nurse scientists to continue to build the evidence for our practice and teaching.


One of the wonderful aspects of a nursing career is that nurses can have multiple careers within it and can be clinicians, teachers and researchers. We need to advocate for a better educated profession with a higher proportion of nurses having baccalaureate and higher degrees as well as advocate for healthier lifestyle opportunities for our society and for a better health care system for those we care for.

We must lead for a better future. Nurses should seek to lead, wherever they are, throughout their careers. Leading requires gaining specific and broad knowledge, taking a public position, being willing to find solutions and engaging in difficult dialogue when necessary. It also requires us to be willing to speak up inside and outside of nursing, with members of other disciplines.

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May 7 2012

Creating a Better Educated Workforce: Transforming Patient Care


Happy National Nurses Week! The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has a proud history of supporting nurses and nurse leadership, so this week, the RWJF Human Capital Blog will feature posts by nurses, including leaders from some of our nursing programs. Check back each day to see what they have to say. This post is by Geraldine "Polly" Bednash, PhD, RN, FAAN, Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and National Program Director, New Careers in Nursing (NCIN).

The environment and systems in which health care is delivered have grown increasingly complex over the last decade. For some time now, many individuals have contrasted the intensive care unit of the past with the medical surgical units of today, noting there is not much difference. Patient care is more complex, the technology is more sophisticated, new knowledge is emerging and nurses and other health professionals are being asked to consider the need to have a dramatically increased level of sophistication about how to intervene in all of this. Moreover, health care knowledge and science is expanding rapidly with new evidence emerging daily about patient care, while the locus of care delivery changes at the same rapid pace. Just contrast the cataract surgery of today with that done 20 years ago. Or the increasing focus on care delivered in communities, not acute care systems.

How do we provide the highest quality care, that is safe, timely, effective, efficient, and patient centered care – the STEEEP scenario – if we do not embrace the importance and value of expanding our capacity to intervene through lifelong learning and through formal education? And how do we assure that we are prepared to seek that emerging knowledge and apply it in the complex array of systems or circumstances in which care is delivered if we are not continually striving to grow our capacity to intervene?

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Mar 23 2012

The Case for Nursing Education Progression

By Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, President and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


Change is a constant in health care. In the face of skyrocketing costs, system fragmentation, health disparities and an aging and sicker population, more care will be delivered in primary care and community/public health sites than in acute- and hospital-based settings. Yet we also face a primary care shortage and the coming infusion of 32 million newly insured people into the system.

To ensure an adequate supply of nurses with the advanced skills and expertise necessary to help bridge the gap while ensuring quality, higher levels of education are imperative. Thus, health care organizations, educational institutions and others are looking intently at the case for advancing nursing education as outlined in the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Specifically, the IOM report recommended creating a system that produces more nurses educated at the Bachelor of Science (BSN) level and beyond.

Since its inception, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has understood the value of a strong, well-trained health care workforce. And we agree with the IOM report that the nursing profession has the potential to effect wide-reaching changes in the health care system. Further, we concur that an improved education system is necessary to ensure that nurses can continue to deliver safe, quality, patient-centered care required for the 21st century and beyond.

As I recently told, there are a number of things that hospitals and other organizations that employ nurses can do to facilitate education progression. And it is to their benefit to do so.

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Mar 22 2012

RWJF Launches New Initiative to Support Academic Progression in Nursing

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) yesterday announced the launch of the Academic Progression in Nursing (APIN) initiative, to advance state and regional strategies to create a more highly educated nursing workforce. The $4.3 million, Phase 1 two year-initiative will provide funding to state Action Coalitions as they work to advance the recommendation in the Institute of Medicine report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, that 80 percent of the nursing workforce be prepared at the baccalaureate level by 2020.

The nine funded Action Coalitions will each work on at least one strategy related to academic progression and at least one related to employment for baccalaureate or higher-prepared nurses, to ensure demand for their services. Thus, academic-service partnerships are key to the success of this effort.

“Our Action Coalitions around the country have generated extraordinary collaboration between nurses and other leaders, who are working together to build a more highly educated and diverse nursing workforce, promote nurse leadership, support interprofessional collaboration, ensure that nurses practice to the full extent of their education and training, and improve data collection,” Susan B. Hassmiller, RN, PhD, FAAN, RWJF senior adviser for nursing, said in a release. “We are confident that the new models they create will be replicable and help achieve our goal to have 80 percent of the nursing workforce be prepared at the baccalaureate level or higher by 2020. Advancing a more highly educated, diverse workforce is essential to achieving the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s mission to improve health and health care in this country.”

The initiative will be led by the Tri-Council for Nursing, consisting of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, National League for Nursing, American Nurses Association and the American Organization of Nurse Executives.

Learn more about the Campaign for Action.

Read more about the Action Coalitions.

Watch the Action Coalition video series.

Mar 20 2012

Upcoming Webinar on Future of Nursing Report's '80 by 20' Recommendation

This week, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI) will present the next in a series of webinars exploring recommendations from the Institute of Medicine report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.

The webinar will be Wednesday, March 21 from 12-1 pm EST. It will address the report’s recommendation to increase the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree to 80 percent by 2020. “Associate and Bachelor Degree Graduates: Differences in QI Participation” will be presented by Maja Djukic, PhD, RN, assistant professor at New York University's College of Nursing.

Register for the webinar.

Lean more about the RWJF Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative.

Oct 6 2011

Creating Incentives for Nurses to Acquire Baccalaureate Degrees

By Peter Lazes, PhD
Director, Healthcare Transformation Project and Director, Program for Economic Transitions
Cornell University


As was clearly stated in the Institute of Medicine report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health1, there is an urgency to transform our current health care system and education system for nurses in order to improve the coordination of care, provide better chronic care management, and control the cost of care for individuals and communities. Increasing the number of BSN-prepared nurses to 80% of RNs is an important component of the current recommendations which will help achieve the aforementioned goals. Yet, there are a number of factors tied to the shifting focus of the health care industry that may impede the full implementation of this recommendation.

As the IOM report argues, the ways in which nurses were educated and practiced during the 20th century are no longer adequate for dealing with the realities of health care in the 21st century. In order to equip 80% of RNs with baccalaureate degrees, health care professionals and nursing school administrators need to acknowledge that non-acute care work is an increasingly critical component of current health care reform legislation and of changes in our reimbursement system. Unless there is a clear emphasis in nursing school curricula on the shift from hospital-based care to community care and from a fee-for-service reimbursement system to a capitation or global payment model, there may be little incentive for nurses to pursue an additional nursing degree. “Why bother? I already have the skills that I need” might be a logical response from a nurse who is currently employed by a hospital. While acute care nurses will still be needed, a growing number of nurses will be required to staff the new jobs that are being created in primary care practices, in hospital clinics, and in medical homes. Nurses must be prepared for a spectrum of job opportunities that will require a novel set of skills but will also present creative and impactful ways to influence patient care.

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Oct 3 2011

The Doctor - of Nursing - Will See You Now

The New York Times this weekend reported on the increasing number of nurses pursuing doctoral degrees, and whether it confuses patients when nurses with PhDs use the title “doctor.” As more nurses advance their education, physicians are worried that nurses will seek more prescribing authority and money, the story reports.

But as Dr. Kathleen Potempa, dean of the University of Michigan School of Nursing and the president of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, points out in the article: “It’s not like a group of us woke up one day to create a degree as a way to compete with another profession. Nurses are very proud of the fact that they’re nurses, and if nurses had wanted to be doctors, they would have gone to medical school.”

“What we call ourselves isn’t the most important issue. Improving patient care is,” says Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) senior adviser for nursing and director of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, adding that she is proud to be both a nurse and “Dr. Hassmiller.”

“Our country’s population is aging,” she continued, “and millions more patients are entering the health system because of reform. We urgently need more primary care providers, including advanced practice and PhD nurses. There is consensus that we need more highly trained nurses if we are to meet the current and emerging needs of our patents. That is why RWJF has always prioritized nursing and why it supported the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing report, which recommends increasing the education of nurses at all levels, including doubling the number of nurses with doctoral degrees by 2020. Nurses with advanced degrees also serve as faculty members and researchers - who also are in short supply - and provide high-quality care for patients. Our focus should be on helping more nurses get advanced degrees, and promoting the kind of interprofessional collaboration that improves patient care.”

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