Nurse leaders launch initiative to solve state nursing education challenges 

Education Initiative

Several complex issues facing nursing are getting in the way of Washington State’s ability to produce a nursing workforce needed by our growing commu­ni­ties: a nursing faculty shortage, nursing educa­tion funding that fails to keep pace, and a lack of quality practice experi­ences for all students. Coupled with that is a national call to advance nursing educa­tion so that nurses have access to baccalau­reate and graduate education.

A group of Washington State nursing leaders has banded together to form a statewide initia­tive called Action Now! to tackle these challenges and trans­form the state’s nursing educa­tion system. 

The Action Now! movement is spear­headed by the Washington Center for Nursing, the statewide central nursing resource center; the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assur­ance Commis­sion (NCQAC), the state’s nursing regula­tory board; and the Council on Nursing Educa­tion in Washington State, the statewide organi­za­tion of deans and direc­tors of Washington nursing programs.

Action Now! will work with key stake­holders to develop prior­i­ties, strate­gies and initia­tives to:

  • Provide oppor­tu­ni­ties for nurses to advance their education 
  • Estab­lish sustain­able financing for nursing programs 
  • Ensure quality practice experi­ence for all nursing students 
  • Create a stronger and more diverse faculty and nursing leader­ship pool 

Provide oppor­tu­ni­ties for nurses to advance their education 

Health needs are changing. Nurses must be prepared to deliver increas­ingly complex care and have the skills to lead health­care into the future. The 2010 Insti­tute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing Report recom­mended an increase to the percentage of nurses with a BSN or higher degree to 80 percent by 2020, as well increasing the number of graduate-prepared nurses. Research shows this helps to ensure our nation has access to high-quality, patient-centered care and better prepares nurses for leader­ship positions in a rapidly changing health care system. The Washington Center for Nursing is in close partner­ship with the Organi­za­tion for Associate Degree Nursing at the national level to accel­erate these efforts. 

Estab­lish sustain­able financing for nursing programs

Funding levels across the state must keep up with the need to attract the best-quali­fied faculty. We need to grow nursing schools to meet the demand so that more students can graduate and practice nursing in different settings and roles. Those gradu­ates become nurse educa­tors, nurse practi­tioners, researchers, and leaders in organizations. 

Ensure quality practice experi­ences for all nursing students

Nurses provide care in a variety of settings. Currently, there is an alarming shortage of clinical place­ment experi­ences and clinical faculty to teach nursing. More residency and precep­tor­ship programs are needed for nursing students. 

Create a stronger and more diverse faculty and nursing leader­ship pool

A long-standing strategy to address health dispar­i­ties is a nursing workforce that reflects the cultural diver­sity of our state. We need more diver­sity in the ranks of nursing leader­ship, including nursing faculty, to better support all students. 

In the coming year, the leaders of Action Now! will work with key stake­holders from nursing, health care, workforce devel­op­ment, policy and the business commu­nity to develop lasting solutions that will improve the health of all Washingtonians. 

For more infor­ma­tion and to get involved, contact Action Now! co-leads Sofia Aragon, Annette Flanders, and Mindy Schaffner by emailing

The Action Now! vision: 

Nursing Educa­tion: Securing the future of a healthier Washington.