California Action Coalition Shares Secrets of Success

Mar 7, 2012, 1:00 PM, Posted by

By California Action Coalition Statewide Director Mary Dickow, MPA


Over the past 16 months, the California Action Coalition has been engaged in a variety of activities to move the work of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Future of Nursing report ahead in our state. As one of the first five pilot states selected to host Action Coalitions, we have had the opportunity to test a few ideas that have been met with success, and we have had opportunities for growth. We feel the lessons we have learned during this period can contribute to the success of other states as they roll out their Action Coalition activities and to all of us who want to get the word out about this groundbreaking report.

One of our most successful initiatives has been overseeing “town hall”-style events to inform a broad audience of our work and to interest new volunteers to join our growing ranks across the state. The Action Coalition held its second statewide town hall event in Los Angeles on February 27, 2012. This “sold out” event, entitled: Partner With Nurses for a Healthy California, was held at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. More than 110 people, including nurses, students, health professionals, consumers and representatives from area businesses and associations, registered for the event.

Mary Foley, RN, PhD, the nursing co-lead for our Action Coalition, welcomed the enthusiastic crowd and introduced Linda Burnes Bolton, DrPH, FN, FAAN, a trustee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and vice president of nursing at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. She provided the group with an overview of the IOM Future of Nursing Report and the national perspective about the campaign to implement the report’s recommendations.

I then had the opportunity to provide an update on progress from the California perspective. My remarks were followed by a panel discussion moderated by Kathy Harren, RN, MHA, MSNc, regional director of the Nursing Institute at Providence Health & Health Services. The panel consisted of Terry Hill, MD, vice president of medical groups services at Hill Physicians Group; Michele Rigsby Pauley, RN, MSN, CPNP, program director of COACH for Kids at Cedars Sinai; Linda Philips, PhD, RN, professor of nursing and Audrienne H. Mosley Endowed Chair at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Nursing; and Phillip Bautista, BSN, a recent graduate of California State University at Fresno.

The audience had a chance to interact with all speakers and to provide comments to the Action Coalition for future consideration. This event, like our first town hall meeting held in Sacramento, Calif. in August 2011, provided our team with necessary input and perspectives from a wide audience.

Much of our work in California is built around ideas and suggestions that we receive from our statewide partners. Given the size and diversity of our state, this kind of input from our regional partners is critically important to our success as an Action Coalition. We are excited to report that we have several more town hall events in the works for other parts of the state. We are currently locking in dates for events in Humboldt, San Diego, Central Valley and San Jose, to name a few.

With each town hall event, we have a planning committee that includes members of the executive committee, the statewide director, and volunteers from the local area. That structure allows us to have people in the immediate area provide assistance and staff the town halls as well as some overall technical assistance and guidance at the statewide level. This format has worked well and we will continue to refine it for future events.

We rely on our “lessons learned” in all we do to make improvements and to revisit how we do things. The town hall events are no different. We can see from both events to date that there are opportunities to improve the content and diversity of the audience moving forward. We invite everyone who cares about nursing and health care in California to attend one of our upcoming events, and would be happy to share tips on constructing and advertising the town hall—including format, delivery and audience engagement—with any other Action Coalitions across the country.

I know California has benefited greatly from interactions with other state coalitions and has valued input and feedback from our partners. Anything we can do to share those experiences more broadly is an advantage for all of us.

Read more about the work of the California Action Coalition and the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, and an interview with RWJF senior adviser for nursing Susan Hassmiller on plans for the Campaign in 2012.

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