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 ActionNow@wcnursing.org
The Action Now! vision:
Nursing Education: Securing the future of a healthier Washington.