Letter to the Nursing Field from Risa Lavizzo-Mourey

    • February 10, 2014

Dear Colleagues,

By now many of you have undoubtedly heard about the changes at RWJF—transitions that are occurring as a result of our new direction and strategic vision.  To support the strategic vision, we have made the difficult decision to wind down and conclude ten Human Capital programs.  These programs include Clinical Scholars; Health and Society Scholars; Scholars in Health Policy Research; Executive Nurse Fellows; Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research; Nurse Faculty Scholars; Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College; the Nursing and Health Policy Collaborative at the University of New Mexico; the Center for Health Policy at University of New Mexico; and New Careers in Nursing.

We are immensely proud of each of these programs and the scholars and leaders they support, but we have concluded that now is the time to develop new health-focused leadership programs that connect people across sectors as well as disciplines, capitalize on technology to promote networking and mentoring, and reach and help many more individuals.  I want to confirm that the four nursing programs, as well as the others slated to conclude, will not close abruptly.  Current and newly selected scholars and fellows will receive full support and each program will conclude as strong as it started. And of course, all grantees and alumni will be embraced in our alumni community on LinkedIn as permanent members of the RWJF family.

I’d like to first reassure you that the Foundation’s commitment to nursing and nurses is as strong as ever, and then provide you with context for our decisions.  We believe that a strong nursing workforce and leadership are critical to promoting a culture of health in America.  We are proud of the Institute of Medicine’s report on the Future of Nursing and our successful national campaign, including the State Implementation Program (SIP) and Academic Progression in Nursing (APIN), which we will continue to support.  We have also just launched a new national program, the Future of Nursing Scholars, to address the IOM recommendations around doubling the number of nurses with doctorates and creating nurse leaders for the future.

After a year of strategic planning, including a thorough analysis of all of our areas of work, including Human Capital, the Trustees and Foundation leadership have agreed that the current landscape demands bold new approaches to the challenges we face: historic national health care reform, widening health disparities, increasingly diverse and expanding underserved communities, cost and value issues, and more. Recognizing the critical role of leaders in advancing social change, we want to develop a new generation of health-focused leadership programs. I’ve spoken often about collaboration and teamwork, and the importance of connecting across professional divisions and engaging with stakeholders beyond health and health care systems. Our new programs will be designed to accomplish that. We envision initiatives that will capitalize on technology to promote networking and mentoring, and also reach and impact many more individuals than possible under current program models.

Our work in Human Capital has yielded remarkable results but to achieve our vision, we need to produce many more well-prepared and well-connected scholars and leaders, in order to have greater impact on more people, and on the health challenges we face in society. So rather than tweaking existing programs, we made the difficult decision to start fresh and explore new approaches and possibilities. I pledge to you that these future efforts will include nurses as essential partners in driving our efforts.

I am excited about the possibilities and opportunities ahead. I am also aware that the progress we seek cannot happen without engagement and leadership from the nursing profession.  We will bring nurse leaders to the table as we shape future Human Capital initiatives. We will also reach out to you for your ideas and feedback during the conceptualization and design phases of this work. By year’s end, we anticipate an open competition to select new national program offices to help shape our new programs.

I look forward to working with you, as we continue Robert Wood Johnson’s commitment to support and strengthen nursing and begin a new chapter in our work. I am convinced that, together, we can build a culture of health in this country.