Executive Nurse Fellows Leading the Way to Implement the Institute of Medicine’s Nursing Recommendations

Oct 10, 2013, 9:00 AM, Posted by

Victoria Niederhauser, DrPH, RN, PNP-BC, is dean and professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville College of Nursing, an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Executive Nurse Fellows program, and a director of the program’s Alumni Association.


One of the greatest impacts the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) report on the future of nursing has had is to provide a national actionable platform for RWJF Executive Nurse Fellow (ENF) alumni to put into action their collective leadership skills and attributes to improve health and health care across the nation.


The RWJF Executive Nurse Fellow alumni are 221 individuals strong and together they use skills in strategic agility, leading change, effective communication, creativity, and risk-taking to create sustainable models of Action Coalitions throughout the country. Through these Action Coalitions, the future of nursing is changing!

For example, in one year, the Tennessee Action Coalition was established with a diverse board of directors led, in part, by two RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows: Debra Honey (2008) and Victoria Niederhauser (2008). And we have already seen a significant impact on our community as a result of the Action Coalition. Specifically, from 2011 to 2012, enrollment in RN to BSN programs in Tennessee increased 20 percent (from 1,375 to 1,635) and the number of RN to BSN graduates rose 30 percent (from 499 to 680). One key recommendation from the IOM report is that more nurses get BSN or higher degrees.

In addition, the Tennessee Institute for Leadership and Policy (TILP), funded through a proposal submitted by the Action Coalition to RWJF, was created to develop and implement nursing leadership and policy programs for novice, middle management, and executive nurses. Institute leaders obtained matching funds through a variety of foundations and professional nursing and health care organizations.  TILP started an electronic mentoring program for new graduate nurses, and a series of webinars on advancing the Future of Nursing recommendations will be held in November!

In working with our Action Coalition co-leader at Tennessee AARP, we developed messaging about the mission of the Tennessee Action Coalition to help promote engagement in advancing the IOM Future of Nursing recommendations.

In another example, The Texas Team: Nursing and the Future of Healthcare in Texas, Advancing Health through Nursing has several RWJF ENF alumnae actively engaged in leadership.  Alexia Green (2001) is co-leader of the Texas Team Advancing Health through Nursing. She remains at Texas Tech as a professor and dean emeriti and is teaching full-time in the DNP Executive Leadership Program. Paulette Burns (2005) is the co-leader for leadership team and Joyce Batcheller (2005) is the co-leader for the practice team with Cole Edmonson (2012). In addition we have the following Texas RWJF ENFs engaged in various committees: Barbara Summers, Linda Lawson (2012), Jose Lujan (2010), Beth Houser (2002), and Jim Cato (2002).

Some of the highlights and actions that are underway follow. The Texas Team, as a state Action Coalition, is an active participant in the Campaign for Action, and working to:

  1. Assure by 2020 that 80 percent of Texas RNs hold a baccalaureate degree or higher;
  2. Double the number of nurses with doctorates by 2020;
  3. Strengthen the diversity of the Texas RN workforce to better care for the state’s multicultural population;
  4. Enable all nurses in Texas to practice to the full extent of their education and training;
  5. Advance inter-professional collaboration to ensure coordinated and improved patient care;
  6. Expand leadership ranks to ensure that nurses have voices on management teams, in boardrooms and during policy debates; and
  7. Improve health care workforce data collection to better assess and project workforce requirements.

I invite my RWJF Executive Nurse Fellow colleagues and other nurses to use the comment function to share what you are doing to lead and support similar efforts in your states!

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