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Kudos for supporting nursing education

Sue Hassmiller

Editor’s note: The following is a response to the joint statement issued this week regarding academic progression for nursing students and graduates from community college leaders and national nursing education organizations.

The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action applauds the efforts of these community college and nursing education leaders to support academic progression for nursing students and graduates. This collaborative agreement is a critical step to achieving our collective goal to advance nursing to meet America’s health care demands.

The campaign, an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and AARP, envisions that all Americans will have access to high-quality, patient-centered care in a health care delivery system where nurses serve as essential partners. The campaign’s priorities are steeped in evidence found in the Institute of Medicine report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, which explicitly states that "major changes in the U.S. health care system and practice environments will require equally profound changes in the education of nurses both before and after they receive their licenses."

For decades community colleges have served as a pathway for individuals to pursue their education and build meaningful careers. We know that approximately 57 percent of nurses enter practice through community college programs. As a community college graduate myself, I know how essential these programs are to creating a diverse nursing workforce, prepared to meet America’s health care needs in all areas of the country.

Through the Campaign for Action, a nationwide network of grassroots coalitions has coalesced to advance nursing education progression. The campaign has identified four highly promising practice models with the potential to accelerate education progression efforts nationwide. Successful implementation of these models depends on strong partnerships with community colleges.

We are facing a nursing shortage across the spectrum, including in hospitals, community health settings, and academic institutions. During an unprecedented primary care provider shortage, accelerated by an anticipated addition of 32 million Americans to our health care delivery system, we must collaborate and develop solutions.

The Campaign for Action celebrates the steps taken by our community college and nursing education colleagues. We will continue to leverage our network of diverse stakeholders to encourage nurses to pursue academic career growth and development; develop academic programs that offer seamless academic progression; and create environments that support and encourage career development. This work will be realized only through alignment and collaboration, demonstrated by the organizations’ agreement on academic progression.

Hassmiller is director of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action and senior advisor for nursing for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.