Leading to a future of better health and health care for Tennesseans.
Subject: Health care coalitions (Services)
Health care coalitions (Political aspects)
Health planning (Political aspects)
Nursing associations (Services)
Nursing associations (Political aspects)
Author: Myers, Carole R.
Pub Date: 06/22/2012
Publication: Name: Tennessee Nurse Publisher: Tennessee Nurses Association Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 Tennessee Nurses Association ISSN: 1055-3134
Issue: Date: Summer, 2012 Source Volume: 75 Source Issue: 2
Topic: Event Code: 360 Services information
Product: Product Code: 8000310 Health Planning NAICS Code: 62 Health Care and Social Assistance
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Tennessee Geographic Name: Tennessee; Tennessee Geographic Code: 1U6TN Tennessee
Accession Number: 293950426
Full Text: As I write this, Nurses Week 2012 is coming to a close and it has prompted me to reflect on how influential nurses are leading efforts to positively impact health and health care in Tennessee and beyond. We are challenged by the far-reaching effects of the economic downturn, political divides impede people with different perspectives from coming together to set aside self-interests and work together to forge solutions, and the problems we face as a society become more entrenched and difficult to address. Challenges like these call for strong nursing leadership. Each challenge is an opportunity.

The need for, and benefits of, strong nursing leadership are among the recommendations outlined in The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The report provides a blueprint for transforming the delivery of health care by optimizing the contributions of nurses. Other recommendations focus on scope of practice, nursing education, and workforce data and development. Nurses Week prompted me to look forward to the future of health care in our nation and communities across Tennessee, to where we are headed as a profession to serve our communities' needs, and how we are getting there. The theme of Nurses Week was Advocating, Leading, Caring. This theme is demonstrated by nurses in Tennessee every day at the bedside, in the boardroom, and in the community. In fact, advocating on behalf of our patients to ensure they get the very best care is the essence of nursing leadership, our historical legacy, and the hope for our future.

Here in Tennessee, the challenges are daunting as a review of current indicators reveals. An estimated 650,000 Tennesseans will gain access to health care coverage in 2014 ... or this number plus others will be uninsured if the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act is not implemented. Tennessee ranks 39th in the latest edition of America's Health Rankings. The overall ranking of 39th represents an improvement over the prior year, but we still face significant challenges when compared to other states. The relatively poor health robs Tennesseans of quality of life and impacts our state's economic viability. Approximately 1.2 million Tennesseans do not have access to primary care. Primary care, integrated with prevention and screening, is increasingly recognized as the essential foundation of good health and health care. Forty-five states have scopes of practice that are less restrictive than Tennessee and more consistent with the IOM recommendation that nurses should be able to practice to the full extent of their education and training. During the last several years, Tennessee APRNs have been faced with serious threats to the current, relatively restrictive practice despite the fact that, "no studies suggest that APRNs are less able than physicians to deliver care that is safe, effective, and efficient or that care is better in states with more restrictive scope of practice regulations for APRNs," as stated in the IOM report. Each of these challenges represents an opportunity for nurses to lead the way to a better future.

The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action is leading efforts to implement the IOM recommendations at the national level. The Campaign for Action is a joint effort of the Center to Champion Nursing in America, the AARP Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Today, the campaign includes 48 state Action coalitions, including the recently formed Tennessee Action Coalition, and a wide range of health care providers, consumer advocates, policymakers, and business, academic, and philanthropic leaders.

But, leadership does not mean acting alone. In Tennessee, our Action Coalition is moving toward an improved system of patient care by engaging many people from across the state to help to make needed changes. We are building a coalition of nurses at all levels, Tennessee businesses, policymakers, and health care experts joined by a common desire to build a high-quality, effective health care system.

The newly commissioned Tennessee Action Coalition is in a formative stage. Attention is currently directed at assembling a board of directors, developing a strategic plan, seeking funds to operate the coalition, and identifying coalition members from across the state and many sectors. It is essential that the coalition have robust participation that extends beyond nursing.

A strategic planning session of the board of directors is scheduled for late July. To facilitate strategic planning, a statewide survey will be conducted to identify those who are interested in being a part of the coalition's efforts and to determine where Tennessee is in relationship to each of the recommendations. A link to the survey will be sent to all Tennessee Nurses Association members and distributed by other nursing organizations and leaders.

A strategic plan for the Tennessee Action Coalition, developed by the board, will be discussed during the fall statewide kick-off of the Action Coalition. The kick-off will be a series of meetings, based in Nashville, with different groups featuring a national speaker and others interested in promoting the IOM recommendations as a means to ensure that all Tennesseans have access to high-quality, patient-centered health care, with nurses contributing to the full extent of their capabilities.

As we move forward, the Tennessee Action Coalition will continue to lead efforts to develop real solutions that will improve patient care, increase access to services, and make us a healthier state. To attain our goals, we must ensure that the nursing workforce is equipped with the right skills to serve our changing population, whether at the bedside or in the community. Leading to a future of better health and health care depends on nurses and others working in concert and seeing each challenge as an opportunity. We can be successful.

The Tennessee Action Coalition is coordinated by AARP Tennessee and The University of Tennessee, Knoxville College of Nursing. The Tennessee Action Coalition has been convened to advance the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, organized by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in collaboration with AARP and the AARP Foundation.

This article was developed in conjunction with the Center to Champion Nursing.

by Carole R. Myers, PhD, RN, Co-Director of the Tennessee Action Coalition
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.