Advancing the Role of Nurses: A Summit to Remember

Mar 12, 2013, 9:00 AM, Posted by


After about a year of planning, we held the Campaign for Action National Summit in Washington D.C. in late February and early March. We brought together more than 200 leaders from state Action Coalitions—nurses, other health leaders, consumers, educators, business leaders and others who are working at the state level to advance nursing and improve health care. These Action Coalition leaders are experts and activists who came to Washington to share innovative ideas for transforming health care and improving health, and to plan for the future. 

The mission of the Campaign for Action and its Action Coalitions, which are in every state and the District of Columbia, is to advance recommendations from the Institute of Medicine’s landmark report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Those recommendations cover a range of issues, including academic progression, nurse leadership, scope of practice, workforce data collection, diversity, and much more. Our goal, in all this work, is to ensure that nurses can contribute as equal partners in a reformed health care system in order to improve patient care.

We planned the Summit as a nontraditional conference that used a U.N.-style approach. It was designed to allow participants—who are from nursing, medicine, business, health systems, philanthropy, and academia—to learn from each other.

We were so fortunate that RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, was able to join us as the Summit kicked off. In a chat with RWJF Senior Communications Officer Linda Wright Moore, Risa said that success for the Campaign for Action “looks like implementation of the Future of Nursing report. It looks like people...across America practicing to the full extent of training and education. It looks like a diverse nursing workforce that is really able to start with [a] bachelor’s degree and continue to grow and provide the kind of care that we know is going to evolve over our lifetimes and beyond. It looks like, frankly, a country that ...has a culture of health.”

It was a tremendous way to start our event and gave us lots of food for thought. 

For me, personally, it is always exciting, invigorating, and fun to see so many nurse leaders and supporters together in one place. I respect and admire everyone who came and all those who are supporting this work.

At the Summit, Susan Reinhard, PhD, RN, FAAN, and I presented some imperatives for the Campaign for Action going forward.  (Susan is the senior vice president of the AARP Public Policy Institute, which runs the Campaign for Action along with RWJF.) We said those working on the Campaign must:

  • move beyond nursing;
  • deliver short term results in the next 18 months, even as we develop long-term plans;
  • have courage to place the right leaders at the helm and remove ineffective leaders;
  • find the funding to sustain this work; and
  •  never ignore diverse stakeholders who are critical to our success. 

Participants were enthusiastic, and we are hopeful that the Summit was the start of more outreach, more engagement, more activity, and more diverse and enduring partnerships. There is a lot riding on our success, for nursing, for health care, and for the country.

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