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One Take on the Top 10 Issues Facing Nursing

Excerpts of this article are from Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, Editor-in-Chief for the American Journal of Nursing

At the most recent Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) biennial meeting in Gaylord Texas, there was a seminar and discussion of the top 10 issues facing nursing, led by STTI’s publications director Renee Wilmeth. The issues were compiled from responses provided by 30 nursing leaders, and were presented in question form:

1) Is evidence-based practice (EBP) helpful or harmful? (Amazing how many interpretations there were of EBP, some of them—as I know from our EBP series—quite incorrect.)
2) What is the long-term impact of technology on nursing?
3) Can we all agree that a bachelor’s degree should be the minimum level for entry into practice? (General agreement here, despite concerns regarding the adequacy of financial support for achieving this goal.)
4) DNP vs PhD: separate but equal? (Not much discussion—I think no one wanted to really get into this.)
5) How do nurses get a seat at the policy table?
6) How do nurses cope with the growing ethical demands of practice? (This generated the most discussion, especially around whether society should provide unlimited costly care to those whose personal choices contribute to their health problems.)
7) How do we fix the workplace culture of nursing?
8) What role do nurse leaders play in the profession?
9) What are we doing about the widening workforce age gap?
10) How do we make the profession as diverse as the population for whom it cares?

What do you think? Would you agree that these are the ‘top 10’ issues? What’s missing? What’s here that shouldn’t be? We would love to hear your opinions, please share them here.

HHS finalizes standards on health disparities

By Sam Baker - 10/31/11

The Health and Human Services Department on Monday finalized new standards to track broad factors that affect people’s health.

The standards are part of HHS’s effort to reduce healthcare disparities — differences in health status and access to healthcare that stem from social, cultural and environmental issues.

HHS devised the new standards to provide more detailed information than what it has collected previously. The department cited, for example, differing rates of diabetes between Mexican-Americans and Cuban-Americans. By tracking health data on that level, rather than using catchall terms like “Hispanic,” HHS says it will be better able to address health disparities.

The standards announced Monday also include tobacco use, obesity, education level and exposure to secondhand smoke.

“It is our job to get a better understanding of why disparities occur and how to eliminate them,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. “Improving the breadth and quality of our data collection and analysis on key areas, like race, ethnicity, sex, primary language and disability status, is critical to better understanding who we are serving.”

A study published this month in the journal Health Affairs found that private insurance companies are also doing a better job tracking health disparities. The number of health plans collecting racial and ethnic data more than doubled from 2003 to 2008, the study found.
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