The American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s 2016 report “Advancing Healthcare Transformation: A New Era for Academic Nursing” focuses on increasing nursing’s contribution to health care reform by aligning the efforts of schools of nursing with those of health care systems. The first article in this series focused on the report’s three findings on the current state of collaboration between academic nursing and Academic Health Centers (AHCs). The second article summarized the first three of the AACN’s six recommendations for advancing academic nursing goals.
The bulk of the “Advancing Healthcare Transformation” report emphasizes concrete steps that deans and other institutional leaders of nursing schools can take to support greater involvement of academic nurses in AHCs, in concert with the efforts of AHC leaders. This article explains the second three of six recommendations for promoting greater interaction and collaboration between health care practice and nurse educators.
Recommendation #4: Partner in the implementation of accountable care.
Accountable care links payments with the cost of care and metrics that measure care quality, appropriateness, and efficiency. Many AHCs are in areas with a large population of Medicaid patients and may also be the only source of services for complex care. Because centralized and traditional services may not meet the needs of large sections of these populations, AHCs are developing new models and programs, including off-site initiatives around the community. Nurses, and in particular academic nurses, are a crucial resource in the research, development, and implementation of such programs.
To be successful in accountable care, the report suggests:
- AHCs and schools of nursing should participate jointly in clinical planning as part of an overall strategic plan that unites academic and clinical resources.
- Academic nursing can take the lead in developing methods to reduce hospital readmissions by improving the transition and continuity between acute, post-acute, home-based, and long-term care services.
- In collaboration with AHC executives and clinicians, academic nurses should expand innovative, nurse-led community programs to support disease prevention and wellness in addition to providing medical services.
- Academic nurses should be encouraged to become community leaders by sitting on boards and partnering with local organizations.
By being out in the community and learning its needs firsthand, academic nurses can use their experience as well as their research knowledge to create and run programs that effectively fill identified gaps in health services.
Recommendation #5: Invest in nursing research programs and better integrate research into clinical practice.
Academic nursing typically does not enjoy the same stature or receive the same amount of resources as other schools of health professions. Yet nursing research is patient-centered and emphasizes processes for making care safer and of better quality — outcomes that align with goals for health care transformation nationally. Nurse-led research elevates nursing practice, so research should be a positioned as a vital part of both academic nursing and clinical practice.
Strategies that can support this recommendation include:
- Establish processes that give nurse scientists greater access to medical research, data, and other resources in medical schools and AHCs.
- Develop research programs involving joint efforts of academic nurses and health system nurse researchers.
- Integrate nurse researchers into informatics planning and programs.
- Build connections with other health education institutions for interdisciplinary research and programs.
- Recruit and develop doctoral prepared nurses in targeted areas of research.
By taking a multifaceted approach to research, schools of nursing and AHCs can make a real impact on clinical practice and patient care.
Recommendation #6: Implement an advocacy agenda in support of a new era for academic nursing.
Academic nursing and health care leaders should work toward advancing state and federal policies that support the vision of nurses as full partners with physicians and other health professionals as they work to transform health care in the United States.
Potential strategies include:
- Seek an expanded budget for the National Institute of Nursing Research (which is currently less than 1 percent of the total budget for the National Institutes of Health).
- Support increased funding for clinician-scientists and engage in conversations about how to direct more nurse researchers into this area.
- Encourage the creation of a coalition of prominent stakeholders to support increased public funding for a national nursing agenda.
- Advocate changes to nursing scope of practice that will allow nurses to take on more clinical responsibilities.
Realizing the vision for academic nursing outlined in the report requires strategic action and organizational change spearheaded by leaders. The AACN report goes on to provide actions that deans of nursing, university presidents, health care executives and other leaders can take to implement change. But nurses at all levels can agitate for greater awareness of the value of academic nursing and research for clinical practice through dialogues with peers and managers, as well as advocacy through professional nursing associations. Explore additional recommendations and key findings in Summary Part 1 and Summary Part 2 of this article series.
To find out more about how the online RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing or the online Master of Science in Nursing at the University of Saint Mary can build a foundation for academic nursing or prepare you to become a nurse leader, request more information or call us at 877-307-4915 to speak to an admissions advisor.