The American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s 2016 report “Advancing Healthcare Transformation: A New Era for Academic Nursing” is a framework for increasing nursing’s contribution to health care reform by aligning the efforts of baccalaureate and higher degree 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 (AHC).
The “Advancing Healthcare Transformation” report’s recommendations offer specific actions that nursing school deans and other institutional leaders, as well as AHC decision-makers, can take to enlarge the role of academic nurses in health care. This article explains the first three of six recommendations in the report for strengthening partnerships and linkages between health care practice and nurse educators.
Recommendation #1: Embrace a new vision for academic nursing.
Academic nursing has typically played a subordinate role in strategic planning and clinical management. The report recommends that institutions adopt this vision of an expanded, official role for academic nursing:
Academic nursing is a full partner in health care delivery, education, and research that is integrated and funded across all professions and missions in the Academic Health System.
Elements of this vision include:
- Nursing participation in health system governance.
- Expanded academic nursing leadership in clinical practice and care delivery.
- Growth and evolution of academic nursing research programs in partnership with academic medicine, the health system, and other professional schools.
- Collaborative workforce plans and training programs in partnership with the health system.
- Integration of academic nursing into population health initiatives.
- System-wide commitment to leadership development to prepare and support future nurse leaders.
This comprehensive picture illustrates where AHCs and schools of nursing need to focus their support and efforts. Benefits of a greater role for academic nurses in the larger enterprise can include gaining and maintaining Magnet status; broadening primary care to lower rates of disease; and preparing clinicians for the challenges of the future.
Recommendation #2: Enhance the clinical practice of academic nursing.
The report details the benefits of greater connection between clinical practice and nursing faculty, with the interaction going both ways, e.g., assigning more clinicians to faculty positions or responsibilities and vice versa.
Potential routes for meeting this goal include;
- Appointing academic nurses to clinical leadership positions.
- Placing academic leaders in key strategic and decision-making roles at AHCs.
- Promoting the collaborative creation of clinical programs by practice leaders and academic nursing faculty.
- Starting entirely nurse-managed practices (which would also create income for schools of nursing).
- Creating more joint positions between education and practice.
Such integration efforts can help unite the mission of academic nursing with clinical practice and provide insights for both sides.
Recommendation #3: Partner in preparing the nurses of the future.
Developing future leaders is a vital task for any industry, but especially in an industry where lives can literally be saved and health outcomes improved with effective leadership. Identifying and cultivating potential academic nurse leaders should be a priority for schools of nursing and their partner health care institutions.
Potential strategies to accomplish this include:
- Revamp academic nursing educational programs to train nurses to meet future population health needs as well as adapt to changing roles as part of long-term workforce planning.
- AHCs and schools of nursing should work together to nurture a pipeline of new nurses at all levels of academic preparation (BSN to DNP), as well as to create programs that funnel high-performing nurses into advanced education and training opportunities.
- Design nursing leadership programs for both faculty and clinical nurses.
- Promote the development of education programs that emphasize inter-professional collaboration and teamwork.
By anticipating the future face of nursing and preparing accordingly, AHCs and their partner institutions can become a model for leading and adapting to health care transformation. Read Summary Part 3 to discover the final three recommendations of the AACN report.
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