The award-winning documentary “The American Nurse” (DigiNext Films) will be shown at special screening engagements May 6 in honor of National Nurses Week. The film highlights the work and lives of five American nurses from diverse specialties and explores topics such as aging, war, poverty and prisons.
“At some point in our life each of us will encounter a nurse, whether it’s as a patient or as a loved one,” Carolyn Jones, director and executive producer of the film, said in a news release. “And that one encounter can mean the difference between suffering and peace; between chaos and order. Nurses matter.”
The American Academy of Nursing recognized Jones, an award-winning filmmaker and photographer, as the winner of its annual Johnson & Johnson Excellence in Media Award for the documentary. The award recognizes exemplary healthcare journalism that incorporates accurate inclusion of nurses’ contributions and perspectives. “I intended to make a film that celebrated nursing,” Jones said in the release. “I ended up gaining deeper insights into some of the social issues we face as a country, through the eyes of American nurses. I’ve grown to believe that nurses are a truly untapped and under-appreciated national resource.”
The documentary also was awarded a Christopher Award in the feature film category, alongside films “Selma” and “St. Vincent.”
The film, which was made possible by a grant from Fresenius Kabi, is being presented locally through sponsorship by the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and AARP, together with the American Nurses Foundation and Carmike Cinemas.
The campaign’s state action coalitions and other campaign partners are expected to host at least 50 screenings of the film. Ten percent of the proceeds will go to help local efforts to advance nursing. A portion of all proceeds from the film will benefit the American Nurse Scholarship Fund.
To find a screening near you or to learn how to host a screening, go to http://americannurseproject.com/national-nurses-day-screenings.
By Barbara Diamond
Now tell us: Is this a viral-worthy video or what?!
Everyone loves it when seniors prove that you’re never too old to have fun. The video below is brand new on YouTube, but I have no doubt it will soon be seen by millions of people.
I couldn’t stop smiling as I watched this clip, which features the residents of Belvedere of Westlake’s Assisted Living Facility fighting for their right to party. With a hilarious parody of The Beastie Boys’ classic song, “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” — an anthem in both the rap and rock worlds — the Cleveland, OH nursing home residents are here to prove that age is but a number, and they certainly still know how to rock. From slingin’ back bottles of booze and gambling, to rocking out on the guitar and stripping down to their skivvies, these seniors are certainly doing it their way. LOL!
Not only do they still have a great sense of humor and tons of energy, but it’s clear that these folks are truly young at heart. My favorite part is at the 1:53 mark. I won’t give it away, but I will say this… You go, Granny!
If this video made you smile, please SHARE it with your friends on Facebook!
If you ever needed any evidence that nurses care vastly about every single patient they encounter, this is it.
A video posted last week on Facebook shows a nurse reacting as one of her patients stands up for the first time in 11 days.
The story as, posted by Texas mom Becky Miller:
“Our daughter, Bailey, had complete paralysis from the waist down for 11 days with no explanation as to why. This video is one of her favorite nurses coming onto her shift and not knowing that Bailey had started walking this day.”
The nurse immediately bursts into tears upon seeing Bailey, screaming, “Thank you, Lord.”
Miller said Bailey had no feeling or movement in her legs the day before. Doctors did not know what caused Bailey to lose feeling in her legs.
Commenters on Reddit immediately took the opportunity to commend nurses, and all of the work and long hours they put in daily.
“Nurses are great people,” one commenter wrote. “You’d have to be humanitarian to be a nurse.”
By ANDREW POLLACK
A Silicon Valley start-up with some big-name backers is threatening to upend genetic screening for breast and ovarian cancer by offering a test on a sample of saliva that is so inexpensiv e that most women could get it.
At the same time, the nation’s two largest clinical laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, normally bitter rivals, are joining with French researchers to pool their data to better interpret mutations in the two main breast cancer risk genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Other companies and laboratories are being invited to join the effort, called BRCA Share.
The announcements being made on Tuesday, although coincidental in their timing, speak to the surge in competition in genetic risk screening for cancer since 2013, when the Supreme Court invalidated the gene patents that gave Myriad Genetics a monopoly on BRCA testing.
The field has also been propelled by the actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie, who has a BRCA1 mutation and has written about her own decision to have her breasts, ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to sharply reduce her risk of developing cancer.
But the issue of who should be tested remains controversial. The effort of the start-up, Color Genomics, to “democratize access to genetic testing,” in the words of the chief executive, Elad Gil, is generating concern among some experts.
The company plans to charge $249 for an analysis of BRCA1 and BRCA2, plus 17 other cancer-risk genes. That is one tenth the price of many tests now on the market.
Testing of the BRCA genes has generally been limited by medical guidelines to women who already have cancer or those with a family history of breast or ovarian cancers. Insurers generally have not paid for BRCA tests for other women, and some insurers are not paying at all for a newer type of screening known as a panel test that analyzes from 10 to 40 genes at once.
Dr. Gil of Color said his company’s test would be inexpensive enough for women to pay out of pocket, so that neither the woman nor Color will have to deal with insurance companies. He said the company was starting a program to provide free testing to women who cannot afford its test.
One of the company’s unpaid advisers is Mary-Claire King, the University of Washington geneticist whose work led to the discovery of the BRCA1 gene. Dr. King last year publicly called for testing to be offered to all American women 30 and older.
She said that half the women with dangerous mutations would not qualify for testing under current guidelines, in part because many inherit the mutation from their fathers rather than their mothers and a family history of breast or ovarian cancer might not be evident.
But other experts say that fewer women in the expanded group would be found to have dangerous mutations, raising the overall cost of testing per cancer case prevented. Moreover, expanded testing could result in many more women being told they have mutations that cannot be classified as either dangerous or benign, leaving women in a state of limbo as to whether they have an increased risk of cancer.
“We have to be careful that we are not just increasing this group of worried-well who have incomplete information,” said Dr. Kenneth Offit, chief of the clinical genetics service at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Dr. Offit said it was contradictory that Color was trying to expand testing to everyone on the same day the two biggest testing companies were joining forces to try to reduce how often they find these so-called variants of uncertain significance.
Color is planning to allow women to order tests through its website. Another Silicon Valley start-up that did that, 23andMe, had its health testing shut down in 2013 by the Food and Drug Administration.
Color executives say that unlike with 23andMe, a doctor will be involved in every order and in the test results. If a consumer orders the test directly from its website, her information will be sent to a doctor hired by the company to evaluate it.
An F.D.A. spokeswoman said that if doctors place orders, testing companies that operate their own laboratories do not need F.D.A. approval to offer their tests.
Some testing experts question whether Color can provide testing as inexpensively as it claims. While the actual sequencing might be done for less than $250, that is only part of the cost, which also involves interpretation and working with patients and doctors, they say. Other companies generally charge at least $1,500 for complete analyses of the BRCA genes or for multigene tests.
But Dr. Gil said Color has highly automated its processes and will even offer genetic counseling to women. He said the company chose the saliva test rather than a blood one because it’s easier for users but still accurate. Women send the saliva sample to Color for testing.
Dr. Gil received a doctoral degree in biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, studying a cancer gene. But he has spent much of his career at Google and Twitter. The company’s president, Othman Laraki, also worked at Google and Twitter.
Color’s backers — it says it has raised about $15 million — are mainly from the world of high tech rather than life sciences. Its lead investors are the venture capital firms Khosla Ventures and Formation 8. Individual investors include Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs; Susan L. Wagner, a co-founder of the investment firm BlackRock; Padmasree Warrior, the chief technology and strategy officer at Cisco; and Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo.
Dr. Offit of Sloan Kettering said that even Myriad, which long had a monopoly on BRCA testing and has the most data, has reported having a 2 percent rate of variants of unknown significance, meaning 2 percent of the time it cannot tell if a variant in a gene increases the risk of cancer or is benign. Other companies might have higher rates. And the rates for some other, less-well-studied genes can be 20 or 30 percent, he said.
The entire testing industry is now scrambling to pool data to lower that rate, and in some cases to catch up to Myriad, which has kept much of its data proprietary as a competitive advantage. Various data-sharing efforts are already underway, including by ClinVar and the BRCA Challenge.
Now there is also BRCA Share, which is based on a database of genetic variants maintained by Inserm, a French government health research institute. Quest Diagnostics agreed to provide money to improve that database and pay for experiments on cells that could help determine whether certain mutations raise the risk of cancer.
“We are going to help them make it better,” said Dr. Charles M. Strom, vice president for genomics and genetics at Quest. He said BRCA Share would be open to others, with LabCorp becoming the first to join.
Participants will have to contribute their data to the database. Companies will pay for access to the data on a sliding scale based on their size, while others will have access to the data without paying, he said.
By Tracey Boyd
Informatics programs that allow med/surg nurses to cut down on documentation and increase patient safety at the touch of a button are becoming more essential in today’s fast-paced healthcare environment.
“Most all nurses use the electronic health record in their daily practice,” said Jill Arzouman, MSN, RN, ACNS-BC, CMSRN, president of the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses and clinical nurse specialist in surgical oncology at the University of Arizona Medical Center, Tucson. The university has computer stations inside each patient room for access to charting, she said, and some hospitals are investing in iPads to facilitate charting. Arzouman is a DNP candidate.
Med/surg nurses at New York’s Montefiore Health System in the Bronx use informatics throughout the day to document patients’ electronic medical records and provide direct care to patients, said Maureen Scanlan, MSN, RN-BC, vice president, nursing and patient care services and former director of informatics for the health system. “Electronic documentation has provided us the ability to track and trend patient outcomes data in a more efficient manner. We have the added benefit of decision support alerts to guide practice and documentation. We then can leverage information collected from the records to streamline workflows and improve patient safety.”
According to a HealthIt.gov study “Benefits of EHRs,” (www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/improved-diagnostics-patient-outcomes), having quick, up-to-date access to patients’ information can also reduce errors and support better patient outcomes by keeping a record of a patient’s medications or allergies, checking for problems whenever a new medication is prescribed and alerting the clinician to potential conflicts.
“The ability to clearly read a medication order printed from a computer is vastly different than trying to decipher a handwritten order,” said Arzouman.
In addition, staff can revisit patient information at any time.
“Many of the systems are very intuitive and allow the entire interdisciplinary team to document and communicate with precision and ease,” she said “A medical/surgical nurse may be busy with another patient but she or he can go back and read documentation from the dietitian who may have visited the patient at the same time.“
A reduction in medication errors was the catalyst for a project using computerized EHRs at Abington (Penn.) Health. When staff realized that patients with heart failure were being readmitted largely because of incorrect medication lists upon discharge, Diane Humbrecht, MSN, RN-BC, chief nursing informatics officer, devised a plan to evaluate the accuracy of such lists.
Humbrecht, a DNP candidate who is also a chapter director for the American Nursing Informatics Association, has worked in both cardiac and home care during her career and said she had experienced heart failure patients going home with medication lists that were either incorrect or missing information.
“It was very frustrating for both the patient and the nurse who is trying to follow up,” she said.
As part of her DNP program, Humbrecht decided to focus on transitions of care for this vulnerable population to help correct their discharge medication instructions and reduce their risk for readmission.
“As I began researching, I saw medication errors on medication discharge lists were the main reasons patients were readmitted to the hospital,” she said. •
Her findings were validated, she said, when the transition nurses who were involved in the postop discharge process informed her of problems with patients going home with incorrect medication lists. “Medication reconciliation and discharge instructions are done by the physician, but the nurses are the ones who review them and they were finding these errors after discharge,” she said.
Humbrecht implemented three changes to remedy the situation. The first step was to bring the pharmacists in on the front end. Pharmacists already performed patient rounding on units, but they were not involved in medication reconciliation at all, she said. The new protocol called for pharmacists to come in within 24 hours of a patient’s admittance to review the co-medications. The input from the pharmacists on the front end was crucial. “The pharmacists had to change about 80% of the lists,” Humbrecht said.
Next, upon discharge, the nurses perform a thorough review of the co-medications list that was corrected by the pharmacist. “If anything needed to be corrected, the nurse then called the physician to tell them they need to change a medication,” Humbrecht said. “Once that was done, it caused the physician to perform medication reconciliation again, automatically updating the entire medication list.”
The transition nurses were the final piece to the puzzle. Prior to the new protocol, upon calling the discharged patient and finding any errors, the nurse would make notations on paper. If the patient was readmitted, and the change was not transferred onto the patient’s EHR, the incorrect information was still in the system. Now, using the computerized medication list, any errors are updated immediately in the system.
The changes worked. Since implementation last fall, the transition nurses have found one error on the medication list of a discharged patient, Humbrecht said.
“We figured if we can get the home medication list correct on the front end by using the pharmacists and double-checked and changed as needed by the nurses on the back end, then the transition nurses should find less errors,” she said.
Besides documentation and patient safety, med/surg nurses are using informatics to enhance patient care. “Our staff nurses provide expert advice when we are defining a new process for delivering patient care,” said Scanlan, who holds board certification in nursing informatics. “A recent implementation of a new lab system that changed the way specimens are collected was successful due to workflow and hardware recommendations from the frontline staff.”
Scanlan said staff nurses recently have contributed to revising the electronic skin assessment template as well.
“Although not a clear time saver,” she said, “it has significantly improved the ability to track, trend and communicate hospital-acquired pressure ulcers [and] has supported performance improvement efforts that are led by the nursing staff.”
Arzouman also noted innovative uses. “For a postoperative patient who needs to continue to ambulate and exercise while at home, a medical/surgical nurse can teach the patient how to track his activity using a smart phone app,” she said. “I have had the opportunity to trial an app on my smart phone that translates basic medical information into many different languages without needing to use a translator. For something simple like ‘Hi, my name is Jill and I will be the nurse coordinating your care today,’ it is a very helpful tool.”
By SYDNEY LUPKIN
Formerly conjoined twins Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith Mata celebrated their first birthday with a "Frozen"-themed party at the hospital.
A team at Texas Children's Hospital separated the girls on Feb. 17 in a 26-hour surgery. They are still in the pediatric intensive care unit and have each had a few surgeries since the separation, but their mother, Elysse Mata, decorated their room with snowflakes and balloons.
"It's been a year," Mata said, surrounded by presents as the hospital filmed her. "It went by so fast. I feel like just yesterday they were born."
Earlier in the week, Mata had a party for everyone at the hospital who helped her babies over the last year. She said she was sad to leave some of the doctors from before the separation, but she knows it's a positive thing.
"Now they're good and healthy and hopefully headed towards home," said Mata, 25, of Lubbock, Texas.
Mata was shocked to learn the twins were conjoined when she was pregnant with them, she told ABC News in July.
"I was speechless, it was so unexpected,” she said.
The girls were born on April 11, 2014 at Texas Children's Hospital. They shared a chest wall, diaphragm, intestines, lungs, lining of the heart and pelvis. Their middle names are Hope and Faith because you can't have one without the other, she said.
"Nightline" was at the hospital in February as 12 surgeons operated on the Mata twins, and Elysse, her husband and 20 family members camped out in the waiting room.
Medicine has changed a lot in the past 100 years. But medical training hasn't — until now. Spurred by the need to train a different type of doctor, some top medical schools around the U.S. are tearing up the textbooks and starting from scratch.
Most medical schools still operate under a model pioneered in the early 1900s by an educator named Abraham Flexner.
"Flexner did a lot of great things," says Dr. Raj Mangrulkar, associate dean for medical student education at the University of Michigan Medical School. "But we've learned a lot and now we're absolutely ready for a new model."
Michigan is one of many med schools in the midst of a major overhaul of their curricula.
For example, in a windowless classroom, a small group of second-year students is hard at work. The students are not studying anatomy or biochemistry or any of the traditional sciences. They're polishing their communication skills.
In the first exercise, students paired off and negotiated the price of a used BMW. Now they're trying to settle on who should get credit for an imaginary medical journal article.
"I was thinking, kind of given our background and approach, that I would be senior author. How does that sound to you?" asks Jesse Burk-Rafel, a second-year student from Washington state.
His partner, also a second-year student, objects; he also wants to be senior author. Eventually they agree to share credit, rotating whose name comes first on subsequent papers related to the imaginary research project.
It may seem an odd way for medical students to be spending their class time. But Dr. Erin McKean, the surgeon teaching the class, says it's a serious topic for students who will have to communicate life and death matters during their careers.
"I was not taught this in medical school myself," says McKean. "We haven't taught people how to be specific about working in teams, how to communicate with peers and colleagues and how to communicate to the general public about what's going on in health care and medicine."
It's just one of many such changes, and it's dramatically different from the traditional way medicine has been taught. Flexner's model is known as "two plus two." Students spend their first two years in the classroom memorizing facts. In their last two years, med students shadow doctors in hospitals and clinics. Mangrulkar says Flexner's approach represented a huge change from the way doctors were taught in the 19th century.
"Literacy was optional, and you didn't always learn in the clinical setting," he says. Shortly after Flexner published his landmark review of the state of medical education, dozens of the nation's medical schools closed or merged.
But today, says Mangrulkar, the two-plus-two model doesn't work. For one thing, there's too much medical science for anyone to learn in two years. And the practice of medicine is constantly in flux.
What Michigan and many other schools are trying to do now is prepare future doctors for the inevitable changes they'll face throughout a long career.
"We shouldn't even try to predict what that system's going to be like," he says. "Which means we need to give students the tools to be adaptable, to be resilient, to problem-solve — push through some things, accept some things, but change other things."
One big shift at many schools is a focus on how the entire health system works — rather than just training doctors how to treat patients.
Dr. Susan Skochelak, a vice president with the American Medical Association, is in charge of an AMA project that is funding changes at 11 schools around the country. She says the new teaching focus on the health care system has had an added benefit: Faculty members are learning right along with the students about some of the absurdities.
For example, she says, only because they have to guide students through the system do they discover things like the fact that some hospitals schedule patients for MRI and other tests around the clock.
"And one of my patients had to come and get their MRI at 3 a.m.," Skochelak says. " 'How do they do that?' " she says a faculty member asked her. " 'Do they have kids?' "
Physicians aren't always the best teachers about how the system works.
Doctors tend to focus on patient care, since that's what they know. However, Skochelak says, "If you hook [students] up with a clinic manager when you want them to learn about the system and what the system does, then the clinic manager focuses on the system."
Another major change to medical education aims at helping future doctors work as team players, rather than as the unquestioned leaders.
In a classroom at the University of California, San Francisco, several groups of students practice teamwork by working together to solve a genetics problem.
Joe Derisi, who heads the biochemistry and biophysics department at UCSF, is guiding more than teaching when he gently suggests a student's tactic is veering off course. "I would argue that it may not be as useful as you think," he tells the student. "But I'm obliging."
Onur Yenigun, one of the students in the class, says that working with his peers is good preparation for being part of a team when he's a doctor.
"When I'm in a small group I realize that I can't know everything," Yenigun says. "I won't know everything. And to be able to rely on my classmates to fill in the blanks is really important."
The medical schools that are part of the AMA project are already sharing what they've learned with each other. Plans are in the works, as well, to begin sharing some of the more successful changes with other medical schools around the country.
You know the one. It might as well have been stitched together with paper towels and duct tape, and it usually leaves the wearer's behind hanging out.
"You're at the hospital because something's wrong with you -- you're vulnerable -- then you get to wear the most vulnerable garment ever invented to make the whole experience that much worse," said Ted Streuli, who lives in Edmond, Okla., and has had to wear hospital gowns on multiple occasions.
Put another way: "They are horrible. They are demeaning. They are belittling. They are disempowering," said Camilla McRory of Olney, Md.
Hospital gowns have gotten a face-lift after some help from fashion designers like these from Patient Style and the Henry Ford Innovation Institute.
The gowns are among the most vexing parts of being in the hospital. But if efforts by some health systems are an indicator, the design may be on its way out of style.
The Cleveland Clinic was an early trendsetter. In 2010, it introduced new gowns after being prompted by the CEO, who often heard patient complaints when he was a practicing heart surgeon. That feedback led to a search for something new, said Adrienne Boissy, chief experience officer at the hospital system.
The prominent academic medical center ultimately sought the help of fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg, settling on a reversible gown with a front and back V-neck, complete derriere coverage, and features such as pockets, softer fabric and a new bolder print pattern.
Patients "loved the gowns," Boissy said. "People felt much more comfortable in the new design, not just physically but emotionally." In recent years, she added, "hospitals are looking at everything they do and trying to evaluate whether or not it contributes to enhancing the patient experience."
It's all part of a trend among hospitals to improve the patient reviews and their own bottom lines -- fueled in part by the health law's focus on quality of care and other federal initiatives. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services increasingly factors patients' satisfaction into its quality measures, which are linked to the size of Medicare payments hospitals get.
Sometimes the efforts involve large capital improvement projects. But they can also mean making waiting rooms more comfortable, improving the quality of food served to patients or, as in this case, updating hospital gowns.
Ultimately, this focus leads to "a better patient experience," said John Combes, senior vice president of the American Hospital Association.
The Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System is in the process of updating its gowns, an initiative that began when the system's innovation institute challenged students at the city's College for Creative Studies to identify and offer a solution to one hospital problem.
The students responded with the suggestion to redo the garment that has often been described by patients as flimsy, humiliating, indecent and itchy. The process took three years, but last fall, the institute unveiled a new and improved version. It's made of warmer fabric -- a cotton blend -- that wraps around a patient's body like a robe and comes in navy and light blue, the hospital's signature colors.
Patient expectations are part of the calculus. They "are demanding more privacy and more dignity," said Michael Forbes, a product designer at the Henry Ford Innovation Institute.
When the institute tested his gown design, Forbes said, patient-satisfaction scores noticeably increased in a few days.
The new gown "was emblematic...of an attitude that was conveyed to me at the hospital -- that they cared about me as a whole human being, not just the part they were operating on," said Dale Milford, who received a liver transplant during the time the redesign was being tested. "That was the subtext of that whole thing, was that they were caring about me as a person and what it meant for me to be comfortable."
But replacing the traditional design is no easy task. What patients wear needs to be comfortable yet allow health professionals proper access during exams, meaning it must open and close easily. The gowns also need to be easily mass-manufactured, as well as efficiently laundered and reused.
New designs, though, can be expensive. After Valley Hospital of Ridgewood, N.J., switched to pajamas and gowns that provide extra coverage, costs went up $70,000 per year, said Leonard Guglielmo, the facility's chief supply chain officer, because the new garments cost more to buy and maintain.
Beyond cost, more ingrained cultural expectations might also play a role in what hospitals think patients should wear, said Todd Lee, an assistant professor of medicine at McGill University, who co-authored a 2014 study in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, examining whether gowns were important and whether patients might be fine wearing their own or hospital-provided pants, instead of or along with gowns.
Often, doctors reported that pants or undergarments beneath gowns would have been okay, but patients said they were never given those options. Traditional gowns make it easier to examine patients quickly, and several doctors Lee spoke to seemed shocked at the idea that patients might wear garments other than the open-backed gown during their stay.
But the most common challenge isn't necessarily doctor expectations or costs. It's navigating hospital bureaucracies, said Dusty Eber, president of the California-based company PatientStyle, which designs and sells alternative gowns. In his company's experience, hospital decisions are often made by committees, not individuals.
By GILLIAN MOHNEY
An Indiana couple is celebrating an extra-special arrival with the birth of their identical triplet daughters.
Ashley and Matt Alexander of Greenfield, Indiana, were surprised weeks ago when they learned they were expecting three new additions to their family during a routine sonogram, according to ABC affiliate WRTV-TV in Indianapolis, Indiana.
"She was checking [Ashley] and right away there were twins, and she goes, 'Let me check for a third,'" Matt Alexander told WRTV-TV in an earlier interview. "I'm like, she's just joking. I said, 'You're joking,' and she said, 'No, we don't joke about this stuff.' So [Ashley] about came off the table."
The couple, who already have a son, had conceived the triplets naturally, so they were not expecting to see three heartbeats on the sonogram.
Ashley Alexander told WRTV-TV she has a plan to tell the girls apart.
"I'm painting their nails," she said. "One's going to be pink, one purple, and the other probably pale blue."
Dr. William Gilbert, the director of women's services for Sutter Health in Sacramento, California, said in an earlier interview with ABC News there was no definite rate for the number of identical triplets born every year.
"It's hard to calculate a conservative estimate," Gilbert said about the rate of naturally conceived identical triplets. "One in 70,000 - that would be on the low end. The high end is one in a million."
By Heather Stringer for Nurse.com
In 2010, the Institute of Medicine issued eight recommendations that dared to transform the nursing profession by 2020. This year marks the midway point for reaching the goals outlined in the report “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” and statistics at halftime offer a glimpse into nursing’s progress so far.
Although the numbers in some areas have altered little in the first few years, infrastructure changes have been set in motion that will lead to more noticeable improvements in the data in the next several years, said Susan Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation senior adviser for nursing. The RWJF partnered with the IOM to produce the report.
“I am a very impatient person and would like things to move faster, but we have to remember that we are changing social norms with these goals,” Hassmiller said. “We are trying, for example, to convince hospital leaders, nursing students and educational institutions that it is important for nurses to have a baccalaureate degree, and that takes time.”
Hassmiller is referring to Recommendation 4 of the report, which calls academic nurse leaders across all schools of nursing to work together to increase the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree from 50% to 80% by 2020. The most recent data collected from the American Community Survey by the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action found that the percentage of employed nurses with a bachelor’s degree or higher only climbed 2% between 2010 and 2013. However, Hassmiller suggested the percentage is likely to increase rapidly in coming years because nursing schools have increased capacity to accommodate more students. As a result, the number of nurses enrolled in RN-to-BSN programs skyrocketed between 2010 and 2014, from about 77,000 nurses in 2010 to 130,300 students in 2014, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing — a 69% increase.
Campaign for Action leaders also are optimistic about the profession’s ability to approach the 80% goal because nursing schools are beginning to experiment with new models of education, such as bringing BSN programs to community colleges.
Traditionally, students spend at least three years in a community college earning an associate’s degree to become an RN — at least a year for prerequisites and another two to complete the nursing program, Hassmiller said. These RNs may work for a few years before returning to school to earn a BSN — and some may not return at all, said Jenny Landen, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, dean of the School of Health, Math and Sciences at Santa Fe Community College in New Mexico. To avoid losing potential BSN students, leaders from New Mexico’s university and community colleges began meeting to discuss a new paradigm: students who were dually enrolled in a community college and a university BSN program.
The educators started by forming a common statewide baccalaureate curriculum that would be used by all community colleges and universities, Landen said. The educators also discussed how to pool resources, such as offering university courses online at local community colleges. “This opens the opportunity of earning a BSN to people who need to stay in their communities during school,” she said. “They may have family commitments locally, and they can take the baccalaureate degree courses at the community college tuition fee, which is much less expensive.”
Four community colleges in New Mexico have launched dual enrollment programs within the last year. At Santa Fe Community College, there are far more applicants than the program can hold, Landen said. Community colleges and universities in other parts of the country also are working together to create programs in which nursing students can be dually enrolled. In addition to nursing schools buying into the need for more BSN-prepared nurses, there also is evidence that employers are moving toward this new standard as well. According to a study released in February in the Journal of Nursing Administration, the percentage of institutions requiring a BSN when hiring new RNs jumped from 9% to 19% between 2011 and 2013.
So far, the national data related to Recommendation 5 — double the number of nurses with a doctorate by 2020 — suggests there have been minimal changes in the number of employed nurses with a doctorate, yet there has been a significant increase in the number of students pursuing this level of education. According to the JONA article, on average about 3.1% of employed nurses in all institutions had a doctorate in 2011. This rose to 3.6% in 2013. This percentage likely will increase in the coming years because of the proliferation of doctor of nursing practice programs since 2010. These programs are geared for advanced practice RNs who are interested in returning to the clinical setting after earning a doctoral degree. Between 2010 and 2013, the number of students enrolled in DNP programs doubled from just over 7,000 students to more than 14,600. There was a lesser increase in the number of students enrolled in PhD programs, up 12% from 4,600 to 5,100, according to the AACN.
“When the DNP degree became an option, it opened the opportunity of a higher level of education to the working nurse, not the researcher, and that was attractive to many nurses,” said Pat Polansky, MS, RN, director of program development and implementation at the Center to Champion Nursing in America. “Getting a research-based PhD takes longer and not every nurse can do that, so the DNP has become a wonderful option.”
Leaders at the Campaign for Action, however, acknowledge that it is important to find strategies to boost the number of PhD-prepared nurses because the profession needs those nurses in academia and other administrative, research or entrepreneurial roles where they are contributing to the solutions of a transformed healthcare system, Hassmiller said. To encourage more nurses to pursue the path of a PhD, in 2014 the RWJF launched the Future of Nursing Scholars Program, which awards $75,000 per scholar pursuing a PhD. This is matched with $50,000 by the student’s school, and the funds can be used over the course of three years.
In December, the nursing profession will have another opportunity to assess progress on the recommendations when the IOM releases findings from a study that is under way to assess the national impact of the Future of Nursing report. The changes happening in areas such as education are remarkable, Hassmiller said, and she is eagerly anticipating the results from the current IOM study.
“I would never modify the goals because you need something to strive for in order to affect change,” Hassmiller said. “I am extremely encouraged because we have never seen anything like this. For the first time in history, more than half of nurses have a bachelor’s degree, and it is going to keep climbing. The most challenging part has been the number of people that need to be influenced to make the business case as to why it is important, and it is finally happening.”
1) Remove scope-of-practice barriers.
2) Expand opportunities for nurses to lead and diffuse collaborative improvement efforts.
3) Implement nurse residency programs.
4) Increase the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree to 80% by 2020.
5) Double the number of nurses with a doctorate by 2020.
6) Ensure that nurses engage in lifelong learning.
7) Prepare and enable nurses to lead change to advance health.
8) Build an infrastructure for the collection and analysis of interprofessional healthcare workforce data.
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