Colleagues in Caring: Regional Collaboratives for Nursing Work Force Development

Colleagues in Caring: Regional Collaboratives for Nursing Work Force Development was a national program to streamline the nursing education system and increase the capacity and attractiveness of the nursing profession that started in October 1994 when the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Board of Trustees authorized a total of up to $4 million for the program; it made an additional authorization of up to $3 million in 1998. The program concluded in June 2003.

The program supported 23 statewide and multi-county consortiums or collaboratives that worked on a regional basis to:

  • Give nurses greater educational and career mobility
  • Align the supply of nurses more closely with marketplace demand
  • Develop programs to recruit and retain nurses
  • Affect public policy on nursing education and workforce issues.

Project collaboratives developed programs and strategies to recruit new nurses and retain veterans. At the same time, they developed and implemented plans that remove barriers to educational mobility and make it easier for nurses to enhance their skills and caregiving expertise.

Because the country headed into a nursing shortage during the program, the collaboratives also focused on implementing data collection and analysis systems that clarified the dimensions and ramifications of the nation's nursing shortage and helped the profession and state policymakers prepare for the future. In this regard, eight Colleagues in Caring projects created formal, ongoing statewide structures to continue generating nursing workforce data and pursuing public policy change based on that data.