The Legacy of PIN: An Urban-Rural Model to Increase the Number of Baccalaureate Nurses

Nov 20, 2014, 10:07 AM, Posted by Darlene Curley

Darlene Curley, MS, RN, FAAN, is executive director of the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare, which served as the lead foundation for the Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future (PIN) project, Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses (RIBN).

As PIN holds its final national meeting this week, the Human Capital Blog is featuring posts from PIN partners about the program’s legacy of encouraging innovative collaborative responses to challenges facing the nursing workforce in local communities. PIN is an initiative of the Northwest Health Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

Human Capital Blog: Why did the Jonas Center decide to become a part of PIN? What were your goals for the project?

Darlene Curley: There were three things that were attractive about PIN. First, there was this project itself, which was developing a pathway for associate degree to baccalaureate nurses. That’s critical for building a highly educated workforce and a pipeline for preparing the next generation of faculty. The second reason was the partnership funding model. It related to the Jonas Center’s philosophy that we should be funding projects together with others in nursing, but also in interdisciplinary models for health. The third reason was the process of bringing stakeholders together in regions, which was critical. We knew that if we could bring nurse educators, students and other stakeholders together to work on the RIBN project, that group could stay together and work on other projects that were important to nursing and health care as they came along. The third reason was the process of bringing stakeholders together in regions, which was critical. We knew that if we could bring nurse educators, students and other stakeholders together to work on the RIBN project, that group could stay together and work on other projects that were important to nursing and health care as they came along.

HCB: Did you accomplish those, or other, goals? Do you consider the partnerships you engaged in/supported to be a success?

Curley: The project far exceeded our goals. We did this in an urban area, at City University of New York, which has 13 schools of nursing, with eight associate degree and five bachelor’s programs. We started with Queensborough Community College and Hunter College, and now it has spread to all the nursing schools in the university system. And the same model is being considered in other academic programs, such as engineering, which is very exciting.

In North Carolina, we started in Appalachia with Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and Western Carolina University. The partners in the state were very successful in finding other funds, and there was so much collaboration in the nursing community, they now have a common curriculum for the community colleges, and almost all of the public and private universities are participating in this program statewide.

We consider the partnerships to be a great success. In North Carolina, all of these community colleges and baccalaureate institutions that are working together are now tackling other topics together as well. PIN laid the groundwork for that collaboration, and we’re seeing that in New York, too.

HCB: Some of the philanthropies that engaged with PIN were new to nursing, but the Jonas Center was not.  Did your PIN project allow you do things that were new to the Jonas Center, engage with different kinds of partners, or engage with partners in different ways than you had in the past?

Curley: It really reinforced the importance of having funding partners. The Jonas Center just made its first grant in 2008, so we’re relatively new. And although we favored partnerships from the start, we don’t make any grants now without a funding partner. PIN strengthened our commitment to nursing and has made us able to support nursing in a much stronger way by having funding partners. And many of our partners now were not nursing funders before. We’ve replicated the model, and I really commend the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Northwest Health Foundation for developing this model. It has supported nursing and it’s also changed philanthropy for the better.

HCB: What was the benefit of collaborating with an urban partner in New York City for your project? What did you learn from NYC that made your rural North Carolina-focused effort more successful, and what did NYC learn from you?

Curley: We had the partners from New York City and from rural North Carolina meet twice a year, and their sharing with each other was critical. They learned that their challenges and successes were much the same, regardless of their location. For this model to be replicated across the country, someone in Chicago or Los Angeles can’t say, “Well, that was in rural North Carolina. That’s not us.” With an urban-rural model, everyone can relate to one of the settings.

HCB: What is the most significant thing you’ve learned from your experience in PIN, and will you apply it to future initiatives and projects?

Curley: The funding partnerships are number one—how key they are. Second, even though these projects were nursing-focused, they have relevance for other disciplines .Third, PIN put the Jonas Center in North Carolina at a time when we were doing our own strategic planning, and the success we had with the community colleges and universities there sparked their interest in our other projects as well. It was an important successful first step in going national with our grantmaking.

HCB: If someone asked you to describe PIN’s contribution to nursing and health care, what would you tell them?

Curley: First, it’s developed funding partnerships and stakeholder involvement as the new standard. There really isn’t any more room for any of us to go it alone. We can accomplish so much more together than any of us can do by ourselves. The second thing is that it also put together new kinds of partnerships, with unfamiliar partners, and everyone involved was able to see the value of that and develop a greater appreciation for what they all brought to the table. PIN has really been a game-changer on the philanthropy funding side of nursing and other health care projects.

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