Over the past year since they were appointed co-directors of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI), Aline M. Holmes, DNP, MSN, RN, and Susan W. Salmond, EdD, RN, ANEF, FAAN, have launched a new phase of the program’s work. Building on its legacy of faculty preparation, NJNI now focuses on faculty development and encouraging nursing educators in the Garden State to transition curricula and clinical experiences. Doing so will help prepare nurses to meet the emerging demands of community-based care and population health.
“Innovation is the key,” says Salmond, who is also executive vice dean of the Rutgers School of Nursing. “Career success for our graduates requires the state’s nursing programs to teach the relevant skills for the health care landscape of today and—more importantly—tomorrow.”
Several NJNI events this year, including a thought leaders’ summit, a conference of deans and chief nursing officers, and the annual meeting, have targeted hot topics relating to population health, the Triple Aim, interprofessional education, and partnerships between academia and clinical practice. NJNI will be supporting this shift in priorities through a request for proposals for pilot projects that will receive funding of up to $50,000 to bring academic and practice partners together on innovative curricular issues.
“We’re trying to establish the idea that curriculum has to change,” says Holmes, DNP, MSN, RN, who is also the New Jersey Hospital Association’s senior vice president for clinical affairs. “Programs can’t prepare nurses for hospital jobs only.”
“Acute care is still the glamorous setting,” adds Salmond, “but skill sets have to reflect both acute care and population health.”
For example, Holmes explains, the vast majority of children are never hospitalized. “Yet nursing programs emphasize inpatient pediatrics, when there’s a pressing need to make sure nurses have the skills and confidence to practice where children are. Nurses need to be up to speed on issues like well-baby visits, immunizations, diabetes and substance abuse. Health care needs are changing very quickly.”
Salmond and Holmes see momentum for curricular evolution starting to build, especially since NJNI has started to provide what Holmes calls a “safe table” where leaders from academia and clinical practice can come together to talk about the direction health care is taking.
“We are excited about the conversations that are occurring and anticipate New Jersey programs will take a lead in influencing new and innovative curricula,” she says.
“Practice and education have a lot to do to get students where they need to be,” Salmond adds, “but we are absolutely optimistic that nurses will be leaders in where health care is going, if the curriculum changes happen.”
Learn more about NJNI at www.njni.org.