Category Archives: Evaluation

Oct 4 2013

The Future of Nursing: A Look Back at the Landmark IOM Report

By Harvey V. Fineberg, MD, PhD, president of the Institute of Medicine, and Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This commentary originally appeared on the Institute of Medicine website.


Three years ago, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released its landmark report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, made possible by the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). In light of the tremendous need for nurses in health care today and in the future — due to the growing numbers of people with chronic diseases, an aging population, and the need for care coordination — the report provided a blueprint for how to transform the nursing profession. Recommendations put forth by the report committee included removing barriers to practice and care, expanding opportunities for nurses to serve as leaders, and increasing the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree to 80 percent by 2020.1


Spurred by the 2010 IOM report, RWJF and AARP partnered to establish the Campaign for Action, an initiative to mobilize action coalitions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to utilize nurses more effectively in confronting the nation’s most pressing health challenges. Although we have made measurable progress in the past 3 years, we have more work to do to fully realize the potential of qualified nurses to improve health and provide care to people who need it.

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Sep 24 2013

Accelerating to Practice: Helping Nurses Succeed

The National League for Nursing (NLN) last week announced the launch of a new program that will focus on improving the transition of new nurses from education to practice. The “Accelerating to Practice” program is the inaugural program of NLN’s Center for Academic and Clinical Transitions.

A team of experts from nursing education and the nation’s leading hospitals and health systems will draw on existing research to define the competencies new nurses need to be successful on the job. They will develop program courses and content that will be disseminated to the field for implementation in college curricula and/or new staff orientations by 2015.

“The demands placed on today's practicing nurses are intensifying, with sicker patients, more complicated treatments, and electronic medical records all adding new layers of complexity to basic nursing care,” NLN CEO Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN, said in a news release. The NLN Center for Academic and Clinical Transitions “will build a bridge between those providing nursing education and those directing nurses in practice. Together, we can develop the solutions and tools today's students need to flourish in this demanding field.”

The NLN Center for Academic and Clinical Transitions is supported by grants from Laerdal Medical and Wolters Kluwer Health. 

Read a news release about the program.

Sep 20 2013

A Closer Look at the Quality of Cardiac Care in the United States

David S. Jones, MD, PhD, is the A. Bernard Ackerman Professor of the Culture of Medicine at Harvard Medical School's Department of Global Health & Social Medicine. He is a 2007 recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Investigator Award in Health Policy Research, and the author of Broken Hearts: The Tangled History of Cardiac Care.


Every day, all over America, people visit their doctors with chest pain and other symptoms of coronary artery disease. Each year, more than a million of them choose to undergo bypass surgery or angioplasty. Are these decisions good ones? Even though modern medicine has committed itself to an ideal of evidence-based medicine, with its clinical trials, meta-analyses, and practice guidelines, the answer is not always clear. By looking closely at the history of these procedures, it is possible to understand some of the reasons why this is the case. With support from a RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research, I looked at three specific questions: the role of evidence and intuition in medical decisions, the reasons why it can be so difficult to determine the risks of medical interventions, and the problem of “unwarranted variation” in medical practice.

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Jul 17 2013

Duty Hour Restrictions Limit Practice Time for Surgery Interns, Study Says

First-year surgical interns are getting less experience performing or assisting with surgeries as a result of the 16-hour workday cap enacted in July 2011 by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, according to a study in JAMA Surgery.

In a review of 10 West Coast general surgery residency programs, researchers found 2011-2012 interns recorded a 25.8 percent decrease in total operative cases as compared with the preceding four years before the cap was enacted. There was also a 31.8 percent decrease in cases performed primary by the interns, under faculty supervision, and a 46.3 percent decrease in cases in which the interns assisted a faculty member.

“The decline in operative case volume in our present study is in some respects surprising given that the new duty-hour changes did not mandate a reduction in an overall 80-hour work week for interns,” the researchers write. “Thus, interns were presumably working the same number of total hours.” The program directors surveyed in the study reported that their predominant solution to the 16-hour rule was to expand the “night-float” system, meaning interns are increasingly working overnight when there are fewer intern-level, elective surgeries taking place.

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May 22 2013

More Americans Visiting Emergency Departments for Dental Care

A new research brief from the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Resources Center finds that an increasing number of Americans visited emergency departments (ED) for dental-related care between 2000 and 2010, as a percentage of total dental visits. ED visits for dental care increased from 1.1 million in 2000 to 2.1 million in 2010.

The increase was primarily among young adults (age 21 to 34), which the researchers hypothesize is due to a decline in dental benefits among this age group. Young adults were more likely than others to report that they could not afford dental care in the past 12 months, the brief says, and recent studies have shown that there has been a shift in the pattern of dental benefits.

“Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) did little to address the issue of dental utilization in emergency departments,” the brief says. The law does not mandate dental benefits for adults, and insurance plans sold through most states’ exchanges are unlikely to include dental benefits. However, pilot programs in some states have shown promise for diverting patients with dental complaints from EDs and increasing their access to dental care.

“In the coming years, advocates for oral health will have to consider other innovative ways to increase access to dental care in order to decrease dental care utilization in hospital emergency departments,” the brief concludes. “Without further interventions from policy makers, dental ED visits are likely to increase in the future, straining our health care system and increasing overall health care costs. Now more than ever, innovative solutions are needed to improve access and oral health.”

Read the brief on patients visiting emergency departments for dental care.

May 8 2013

Do We Know What Kids in the Hospital Think of Their Care? Check.

Nancy Ryan-Wenger, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN, is the director of nursing research and an investigator at the Center for Innovation in Pediatric Practice at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. As a grantee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI), she was a lead investigator of the first-ever study to systematically elicit the views of hospitalized children and adolescents on the quality of their nursing care, and also the first to evaluate children’s perceptions of nurses’ behavior for evidence of any disparities across demographic groups. This is part of a series of posts for National Nurses Week, highlighting how nurses are driving quality and innovation in patient care.


Have we asked the children?


That became a pressing question for me when I retired from academia after 30 years and joined the staff of Nationwide Children’s Hospital. I became aware of things that are highly important to hospitals, such as opinions of the quality of care. Yet when I saw the patient surveys at Nationwide, they were almost always completed by parents, and 80 percent of the questions were geared toward parents: Were they kept informed of their child’s condition? Did they have a comfortable place to sleep? Was their child treated kindly by staff member?

Those are important questions, certainly, but if you’re doing a patient survey, don’t you want to know what the patient thinks?

Have we asked the children?

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May 2 2013

New Data: Nursing Profession Is Bigger, More Diverse, Better Educated

A report released Monday by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) indicate that efforts to grow and diversify the nursing workforce are showing results—a welcome finding given the looming shortage of nurses and primary care providers in general.

According to the data from HRSA's National Center for Health Workforce Analysis, the nursing profession grew substantially in the 2000s, adding 24 percent more registered nurses (RNs) and 15.5 percent more licensed practical nurses (LPNs). Significantly, the growth in the supply of nurses outpaced growth in the U.S. population, with the number of RNs per capita growing by about 14 percent and the number of LPNs per capita increasing by 6 percent.

The "pipeline" carrying nurses from school to the workforce also expanded during the past decade. The number of would-be nurses who passed national nurse licensing exams to become RNs more than doubled between 2001 and 2011, while the number of LPN test-passers grew by 80 percent. Significantly, the share of licensure candidates with bachelor's degrees increased during that time, as well.

The profession also is growing more diverse, according to the data. Non-white RNs are now 25 percent of the profession, up from 20 percent 10 years ago. Nine percent of RNs are men today, up slightly from 8 percent at the beginning of the decade.

Read more about the HRSA report.
The full analysis is available at HRSA's website.

May 1 2013

Strategies for Enhancing Diversity

Catherine J. Malone, MBA, DBA(c), is a program associate working in the areas of diversity and nursing for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This is the first in a series of posts looking at diversity in the health care workforce.


As a member of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) Human Capital team leading the group’s diversity efforts and the Foundation’s Diversity Team, I would like to share some of our work in this area. I must start by noting that “diversity” means different things to different people. At RWJF we recognize and value all types of diversity and therefore have a broad definition of the term which is described in the Foundation “Diversity Statement” below:

Catherine Malone

“Diversity and inclusion are core values of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, reflected in our Guiding Principles. We value differences among individuals across multiple dimensions including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, religion and socioeconomic status. We believe that the more we include diverse perspectives and experiences in our work, the better able we are to help all Americans live healthier lives and get the care they need. In service to our mission, we pledge to promote these values in the work we do and to reflect on our progress regularly.”

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Apr 23 2013

Health Care: One of Every Nine U.S. Jobs

Health care employment accounted for 10.74 percent of total employment in the United States in March, according to a report by the Altarum Institute. One out of every nine jobs was in the health care sector—an all-time high, the report says.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) March 2013 employment data show that health care employment rose by 23,000 jobs in March, and most were in ambulatory care. Health care has added 1.4 million jobs since the start of the recession in December 2007, the report says, while non-health employment has fallen.

The Altarum Institute is a nonprofit health systems research and consulting organization.

Read the report here.

Mar 21 2013

Physician Turnover at Highest Rate Since 2005

An annual Physician Retention Survey from Cejka Search and the American Medical Group Association (AMGA) finds that medical groups had an average physician turnover rate of 6.8 percent in 2012, up from 6.5 percent in 2011 and the highest rate since 2005. The increased turnover correlates with the nation’s economic recovery; improvements in the housing market and recovery in stock prices may have made physicians more likely to move or retire, experts say.

The survey, which drew responses from 80 medical organizations that collectively employ more than 19,000 physicians, also finds that medical groups expect an increase in turnover in the coming year due to accelerating retirement and competition to hire and retain top physicians. Seventy-six percent of respondents plan to hire more primary care physicians in the next 12 months.

“The survey findings provide evidence that recruitment and retention continue to be major challenges for health systems,” Donald W. Fisher, PhD, CAE, president and chief executive officer of AMGA, said in a news release about the survey. “To rise to these challenges, medical groups are demonstrating remarkable leadership by investing in new staffing and delivery models, building and nurturing their teams in a strategic way, and making accountable care work for their patients and their communities.”

For the second year, the survey also asked about turnover among advanced practice clinicians, including physician assistants and nurse practitioners. That turnover rate in 2012 was 11.5 percent, essentially unchanged from the previous year.

Read more about the survey.