The Program Being Evaluated
The Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellows Program is a leadership development program designed to prepare a select cadre of registered nurse executives for leadership roles in shaping the U.S. health care system of the future. The ultimate goal was to help the nursing profession gain a more influential voice in setting and implementing health care policy.
Each year, 15 fellows were chosen from senior executive positions in three fields of nursing considered vital to shaping the U.S. health care system of the future: clinical practice, nursing education and public health. Each fellowship would last for three years. Fellows would continue to work for their employing institution, but would be guaranteed time off for program activities.
Four core elements of the program would provide fellows with learning opportunities:
About the Evaluation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) commissioned The Lewin Group led by Colleen Hirschkorn, M.P.A., of The Lewin Group working in collaboration with Health Workforce Solutions to conduct a study of the usefulness and impact of nursing leadership programs in general, and the Foundation’s Executive Nurse Fellows Program (ENFP), in advancing the field of leadership development and other national health care priorities. The study also gathered information on nurse leaders who have participated in the ENFP since 1998, to better understand the program’s impact on the field of nurse leadership development and the ability of participants to advance organizational priorities and apply leadership skills to contribute to system innovation and change.
Major Evaluative Topics and Questions
The objectives of the study were to:
Summary of Methods
The evaluation included:
Knowledge and Impact
The findings of this study demonstrate that effective executive nurse leadership has a positive impact at both the organizational and the broader health system levels. At the same time, there remains enormous leadership challenges and inadequate leadership development offerings available to nursing leaders. The ENFP occupies a unique niche, providing rich opportunities to translate enhanced leadership skills into heightened effectiveness across service, education and public health sectors. It also increasingly serves as a model and catalyst in seeding new leadership development programs.