The following is the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) weekly news roundup, highlighting nursing and health care stories from around the state.

The Affordable Care Act turns 1: How N.J.’s medical landscape is changing (Inside Jersey)
New Jersey medical practices are gaining new patients and serving new populations with the expansion of insurance under the Affordable Care Act, but many physicians are holding off on making wholesale changes to their practices because of concerns that the program will be dismantled before it is fully implemented. According to a May report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the percent of uninsured among the state’s non-elderly population dropped from 21.2 percent in September 2013 to 13.2 percent in early March 2014, a decrease of 38 percent. That translates into more than 400,000 newly insured people, and indicates the state is at the lowest level of uninsured in 25 years.

Amick: Organ donation in New Jersey is improving, but a critical shortage still exists (The Times of Trenton)
For six years, the “Hero Act” has involved the state more deeply in the issue of organ donation. Among several changes, curricula for medical and nursing students were expanded to include the clinical aspects of transplant procedure. It was hoped that the Hero Act would close the wide gap between the great need for transplantable hearts, kidneys, livers and lungs and the limited availability of those organs.

Thomas Edison State College commencement celebrates student accomplishments (The Times of Trenton)
Hamilton resident Marion Smayda has worked in nursing for the past 40 years, most recently as the clinical director of patient services at the Visiting Nurse Association Health Group in Middlesex County. As a manager, she always encourages the nurses to continue their education, and she thought she should do the same. “I thought I would be a better manager if I got a degree. And my mom was a nurse and she would have been really proud if I got my bachelor’s,” Smayda, 60, said. “[The degree] will help me if I want to move up higher than a director. It gives me a lot more ability to pursue other directions.” Smayda is one of 3,300 graduates receiving degrees from Thomas Edison State College this year.