Analyzing Stakeholder Perceptions and Social Network Connections Important for the Future of Nursing

Dates of Project: December 2010 to September 2011

Field of Work: Social network analysis in nursing

Problem Synopsis: In October 2010, RWJF and the Institute of Medicine released the report of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing, at the Institute of Medicine.

The report offered eight key recommendations that called for substantive changes in nursing education, clinical practice, nursing workforce development, policy-making, and leadership. A strategic advisory committee was charged with guiding the implementation phase of the initiative. RWJF staff believed that an analysis of the social network connections among advisory committee members and other key stakeholders would provide information valuable to the implementation of the initiative's recommendations.

Synopsis of the Work: Researchers at Sage Colleges conducted interviews of strategic advisory committee members, RWJF staff, and other stakeholders colleges to ascertain stakeholder perceptions as to issues the advisory committee will face, and to identify the social networks for each; they then used special software to analyze these networks.

Key Findings

Major themes about the issues include:

  • A "clear, agreed upon" strategic plan is needed that addresses how the recommendations will be implemented.
  • The business case for implementation of some of the recommendations is not being discussed; cost savings must be demonstrated in order for those involved to be willing to work to make such changes.
  • Education leaders, especially those representing community colleges, are "critically" needed on the advisory committee.
  • Representation from the business community, including Fortune 500 companies, is needed on the advisory committee and the business community must be included in implementation efforts.
  • Despite many issues on which physician and nursing organizations can agree, scope of practice is a major roadblock to progress.

Key findings from the analysis of advisory committee members' social networks include:

  • Advisory committee members had the most connections with membership and advocacy organizations.
  • Members had a broad range of connections with the health care field.
  • While the advisory committee members had a fair number of connections with universities and colleges (267 different institutions), almost all were with large public universities or top private institutions, with only four connections to community colleges.
  • Less than 5 percent of total network connections were with the business sector.