Put Your Research Proposal in Front of a Group of Funders!

Jun 27, 2011, 1:15 PM

By Lori Melichar, Ph.D., M.A.

Director, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is coordinating a unique, multi-funder initiative to identify, generate, synthesize and disseminate evidence essential to informing efforts to implement the recommendations outlined in the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health and to contribute to the Campaign for Action’s goal to advance comprehensive change in health care for patients and the country. Melichar is helping coordinate that effort.

Lori Melichar

The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action (CFA) has launched an exciting initiative to focus national attention (and funding) on a common research agenda related to the CFA’s vision: that all Americans have access to high-quality, patient-centered care in a health care system where nurses contribute as essential partners in achieving success.

The CFA aims to:

• strengthen nurse education and training;

• enable nurses to practice to the full level of their education and training;

• advance interprofessional collaboration across the health spectrum;

• expand leadership ranks to ensure that nurses have a voice on management teams, in boardrooms and during policy debates; and to

• improve health care workforce data collection.

The Institute of Medicine’s landmark report. The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health offers a blueprint for transforming the nursing profession to enhance the quality and value of U.S. health care in ways that meet future needs of diverse populations—but it doesn’t contain all of the answers. We understand that the national leaders, public agencies, private organizations and individuals who have been called to action through specific recommendations have other priorities that compete for attention, funding and effort. We understand that the major players face uncertainty about the future of health care and their own roles in that future. We also understand the role that politics, with both big and small “Ps,” plays in the positions and behaviors of individuals and powerful organizations.

We think research that helps us understand how physicians, unions, educational institutions and consumers with a range of characteristics really think can lead to more successful strategies. Research that examines assumptions and fears and compares alternatives can point to implementation strategies that make the most of the significant, yet limited resources that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and many, many others have to offer.

We will be funding research to direct implementation, assess impact and ultimately change minds and/or behavior. This network will soon also include a range of different funders.

Follow this link to find our research brochure and a website that presents a more comprehensive list of prioritized research questions.

I am very careful not to call this a Call For Proposals. The Foundation has committed no funding dollars to support research projects deemed responsive to the research priorities. Proposals received via the Foundation’s Application and Review system will be reviewed, scored according to rigor, relevance and impact, and will be made available to a community of funders (public and private, large and small).

A few of the types of questions are included below:

• How effective are various inter-professional education models?

• What concepts of behavioral economics offer the most promise for provider/provider interactions and patient/provider interactions?

• What policy options can best address the goal of doubling the number of nurses with a doctorate by 2020?

• What are the effects of expanding scope-of-practice for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) on physician satisfaction, productivity and income in states? What scope-of-practice is optimal for patients in a fee-for-service world? In a world of bundled payments?

• What models of care most effectively utilize the skills/expertise of registered nurses (RNs) and/or APRNs in primary care?

• What payment mechanisms would incentivize diffusion of care models in which nurses lead care programs or provide coordination and collaborative leadership?

• What models are ideal for determining adequate staffing in a range of care settings?

• What policies and incentives foster teamwork and professional collaboration?

What you see here is only a subset of the important, exciting, interesting questions related to nursing and other aspects of the health care system.

We hope you will engage with us in this opportunity to influence policy and practice and transform health and health care between now and January 3, 2012.


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