The Legacy of PIN: Strengthening Long-Term Care in Arkansas

Nov 21, 2014, 9:00 AM, Posted by Chris Love

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).

The PIN journey with Arkansas Community Foundation and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), among other partners, has been one of both providence and progress. It was in the fall of 2008 that we were approached by leaders from UAMS with the idea for us to become partners with them in this endeavor.

At first, the idea seemed daunting. Then, after some consideration by our senior leadership, it became an open door for opportunity—an opportunity to leverage the structure and resources of our foundation to complement the expertise of our colleagues and friends at UAMS to address a major issue of mutual concern: the aging population in our state and the significant shortage of adequately prepared nurses to care for that population. Not long into the partnership, our organizations realized this would be a match made in heaven.

This all happened about a year prior to my coming to the foundation. When I received the call in late October 2010 that I was being offered this job, I was told my first order of business was to attend the annual PIN meeting and national release of the Institute of Medicine future of nursing report in Washington, D.C. That was an amazing meeting and an amazing introduction to my work at the foundation, primarily with respect to PIN.

The partners and I hit it off right away. I got what our project was about and over the next few years enjoyed the opportunity to work with the partners to help Arkansas move toward a better educated nursing workforce in long-term care. Since our project began, the partnership has accomplished quite a bit, including increasing the pipeline for nurses pursuing higher education in preparation for work in long-term care settings, as well as growing an invigorated group of champions across multiple sectors that now have interest in giving support and attention to this critical need in our state.

We would definitely say the partnership has been a success. And we are grateful for the model set forth by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Northwest Health Foundation to partner agencies with community foundations in order to accomplish these types of projects. It has yielded some lifelong partnerships among Arkansas organizations with respect to supporting the field of nursing, and I am sure that has been the case nationwide as well.

The Arkansas Community Foundation came to the partnership with a strong history of supporting nursing through scholarships and other grants. PIN gave us an opportunity to develop a more targeted focus on one of the major issues in our state. PIN also showed us the benefit of bringing a diversity of partners to the table to address a big issue, and it’s helped us to see health from a broader perspective.

The importance of having an adequately prepared nursing workforce has been huge to our awareness and understanding of what it means to have a healthy state. We look at health and health care much differently now, and we see how nursing impacts health care in a really big way.

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