More than 40 nurses from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Executive Nurse Fellows Program met in Washington in April for five days of seminars, issue briefings and meetings with Members of Congress and their aides. Their message for Capitol Hill: the debate over coming health reform legislation must include the views and voices of America’s nurses, and reform must address the looming nursing shortage.
The Executive Nurse Fellows Program is an advanced leadership program for nurses in senior executive roles who aspire to lead and shape the U.S. health care system of the future. Each year, the program selects approximately 20 nurses to participate, via a rigorous application process.
The Fellows’ 2009 spring leadership seminar, “Inspiring and Leading Change,” kicked off on April 1, 2009, with issue briefings from staff of the Fellows program and of the Center to Champion Nursing in America (CCNA), a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, AARP, and the AARP Foundation. Briefers included Winifred Quinn, Ph.D., the Center’s senior legislative representative, and Peter Reineke, advisor to the Center on advocacy, federal government relations and the development of national and state coalitions. They updated Fellows on the status of health care reform legislation and the federal budget, as well as the relevant components of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, President’s Obama’s economic stimulus package.
Over the next several days, the Fellows took part in sessions featuring key leaders in the health reform debate, including former Clinton Administration Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, Ph.D., A.B., and newly appointed Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N. Also joining the group’s discussions were two former RWJF Health Policy Fellows, Nancy Ridenour, Ph.D., R.N., who worked with House Committee on Ways and Means during her 2007-2008 fellowship, and Deborah Trautman, Ph.D., R.N., who worked with the staff of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that same year.
Other presenters included Suzanne Begeny, M.S., R.N., director of government affairs at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), and RWJF board member Marla Salmon, Sc.D., R.N.