Education, Leadership, and Collaboration

Education, Leadership, and Collaboration

Three components that will help transform nursing and improve patient care

Nurses play such a critical role in improving the health and healthcare for all Americans. With this understanding the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) was proud to have sponsored the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Though all of the recommendations need to be advanced to transform nursing and improve patient care, RWJF is taking the lead in nursing education, nursing leadership, and interprofessional collaboration—areas that provide the best fit with the Foundation’s mission, priorities, assets, and resources.

Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation senior adviser for nursing, where she is tasked with shaping and leading the Foundation’s strategies to address the nurse and nurse faculty shortages in an effort to create a higher quality of patient care in the United States.

Nursing Education: The IOM report emphasizes that if nurses are to be as effective as possible in helping to provide high-quality patient care, they’ll need to be better prepared as care becomes more complex and shifts to the home and community. We also need more nurses with advanced degrees to provide primary care and teach the next generation of nurses. A bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) best prepares nurses to take on increasingly complex roles. RWJF is starting a new National Nurse Education Progression initiative that will help more nurses to earn a BSN degree or higher and help to advance the IOM recommendation to increase the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree to 80 percent by 2020. We’re also helping to advance the IOM recommendation to double the number of doctorates by 2020 through our Nurse Faculty Scholars’ program and our New Jersey Nursing Initiative.

Nursing Leadership: Nurses bring an important voice and point of view to management and policy discussions. We need to prepare more nurses to help lead improvements in healthcare quality, safety, access, and value, whether at the bedside, in the community, or in the boardroom. RWJF has long promoted nursing leadership through our Executive Nurse Fellows program, and through our Nurse Leaders in the Boardroom and Transforming Care at the Bedside programs.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Studies have demonstrated how effective coordination and communication among health professionals can enhance the quality and safety of patient care. Health professionals working collaboratively as integrated teams draw on individual and collective skills and experience across disciplines. They seek input and respect the contributions of everyone involved. That allows each person to practice at a higher level. The result is inevitably better patient outcomes, including higher levels of patient satisfaction. We also need to foster interprofessional education, training and practice. RWJF is holding meetings with physician and nursing stakeholders to find common ground on the roles that each profession plays in healthcare and to move beyond differences that divide nurses and physicians.

Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN
Senior Adviser for Nursing
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

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