In this Issue:

A Healthier Future for New Jersey
A Fond Farewell to the Collaborative Learning Community
Alumni and Scholars Update
Did You Know…?


A Healthier Future for New Jersey

From left to right, panel discussion moderated by Wendy Yallowitz, MSW, Program Officer RWJF with Edna Cadmus, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, Co-Lead, NJAC; Aline Holmes, DNP, RN, Co-Director NJNI; Susan Salmond, EdD, RN, ANEF, FAAN, Co-Director NJNI; and Robert Atkins, PhD, RN, FAAN, Director, NJHI.
From left to right, panel discussion moderated by Wendy Yallowitz, MSW, Program Officer RWJF with Edna Cadmus, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, Co-Lead, NJAC; Aline Holmes, DNP, RN, Co-Director NJNI; Susan Salmond, EdD, RN, ANEF, FAAN, Co-Director NJNI; and Robert Atkins, PhD, RN, FAAN, Director, NJHI.

The importance of promoting healthy lifestyles—and building partnerships to achieve that objective—were themes of the sixth annual meeting of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI), held on April 10 at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

The meeting, Coming Into Focus: The Big Picture of Population Health and the Direction of Nursing Education, drew nearly 100 attendees from nursing education, clinical practice, and philanthropy. NJNI’s mission is to be a leader in bringing the state’s academic and practice leaders together to transform nursing education to meet the health care demands of the 21st century.

“We must encourage nursing students to take an active role in population health, and an active role in wellness,” NJNI Program Co-Director Susan W. Salmond, EdD, RN, ANEF, FAAN, executive vice dean and professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing, said in introducing the first speaker of the day, Pamela S. Dickson, MBA, RWJF’s associate vice president for Targeted Teams.

Dickson discussed the Foundation’s goal to build a Culture of Health in which business, government, individuals, and organizations work together to build healthy communities and lifestyles. That goal “has changed us in a transformative way,” Dickson said. “I’m very happy you’re all partnering with us. We need all of you in order to bring this vision to fruition.”

Lights! Camera! Campaign for Action!

Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, RWJF’s senior adviser for nursing, and New Jersey Action Coalition (NJAC) Co-Lead Edna Cadmus, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, clinical professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing, provided national and state updates, respectively, on the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action. The Campaign focuses on implementing recommendations from the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) landmark report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, which created a blueprint to transform health care through nursing.

As she discussed progress in meeting the recommendation to increase the proportion of registered nurses (RNs) with bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or higher degrees to 80 percent by 2020, Hassmiller pointed out that enrollment in RN-to-BSN programs increased by 69 percent from 2010 to 2014. She singled out faculty in the audience to “thank you for what you’re doing. This progress reflects your hard work.”

Hassmiller added that nurses, who make up the largest segment of the health care workforce and spend the most time with individuals and families, “have such a key role in building a Culture of Health.”

In New Jersey, Cadmus said, NJAC has embraced “the opportunity to change the mindset about where nurses practice.” That work is reflected in initiatives such as the Action Coalition’s long-term care residency program for RNs, which is designed to improve the quality of care in long-term care facilities throughout the state. The first cohort of nurse residents, working in 15 nursing homes, completed the program this spring. A second cohort, in residence at 22 nursing homes, will complete their training in the fall. The program is supported by $1.6 million from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Cadmus also announced that NJAC will be conducting a survey to determine the number of nurses serving on hospital and other boards of directors. “It’s very important to get an accurate count in New Jersey,” she said. One of the IOM’s recommendations is to increase the number of nurses in leadership positions.

Making Health a ‘First Thought’

Donald Schwarz, MD, MPH, MBA, RWJF director, delivered the keynote address on building healthy communities. “We have a ways to go as a nation before health is a first thought, not a second thought,” he said. “Nurses have long led the way in saying that we need to care about more than just disease. How long and how well people live is central to nursing.”

Schwarz, who served as deputy mayor for health and opportunity and health commissioner in Philadelphia, described that city’s efforts to improve public health by providing and marketing healthier food options in corner stores and Chinese take-out restaurants, creating safer conditions for walking and bicycling, and raising penalties for tobacco sales to minors.

“Philadelphia shows what can be done to change the context,” Schwarz said. “You can do this. Nurses can be leaders in making changes where we live, work, and play.”

Julie Willems Van Dijk, PhD, RN, co-director of RWJF’s County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, discussed how data can inform population health strategies. “There are many factors beyond health care services that affect lifespan and quality of life,” she said. “Because of nursing’s focus as relational, holistic practitioners, we stand in a perfect place to influence those factors on an individual and population level. There are tools and guidance available through County Health Rankings & Roadmaps to assist nurses in addressing population health.”

Working Together for a ‘Much Bigger Impact’

The meeting closed with a panel discussion on a new partnership between NJNI, NJAC, and New Jersey Health Initiatives (NJHI). All three organizations have support from RWJF, which is committed to improving health and health care in New Jersey and to strengthening the nursing workforce. NJNI, NJAC, and NJHI are collaborating on pressing issues, including redesigning nursing curricula, diversifying the state’s health care workforce, and preparing health care professionals to provide community-based care throughout the state.

“If we work together, we’ll have a much bigger impact,” said RWJF Program Officer Wendy Yallowitz, MSW. “It’s great to see this work happening in New Jersey.”

Yallowitz and other panelists—NJNI Program Co-Directors Salmond and Aline Holmes, DNP, RN, senior vice president for clinical affairs at the New Jersey Hospital Association; NJAC Co-Lead Cadmus; and NJHI Director Robert Atkins, PhD, RN, FAAN—discussed using school nurses and after-school programs to reach school-age children with messages about healthy lifestyles, how higher education can drive leadership in transforming health by giving academic credit for service learning, and ways to bolster community partnerships between health advocates, local governments, and faith-based organizations.

“We have to become more nimble and experimental,” Holmes said.

Dona Ortiz, RN, MSN, chief nursing officer at Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, said she found the day’s sessions “really interesting and enlightening. What Dr. Schwarz did in Philadelphia, what Dr. Van Dijk is doing with county health data—that’s so informative to hear about. It gets you excited about all the possibilities.”

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A Fond Farewell to the Collaborative Learning Community

Diane M. Billings, EdD, RN, FAAN, ANEF, Director Faculty Preparation Program
Diane M. Billings, EdD, RN, FAAN, ANEF, Director Faculty Preparation Program

The 2015 New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) annual meeting included a tribute to an important chapter in the program’s history: the Collaborative Learning Community (CLC), which was celebrated at a special gathering on the eve of the meeting.

When the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) launched NJNI in 2009, the CLC was created as an integral component of the Faculty Preparation Program. Since then, it has supported 61 New Jersey Nursing Scholars in their pursuit of master’s or doctoral degrees that qualify them for nurse faculty positions.

Through webinars, learning sessions, annual meetings, and an online network, the CLC not only supported NJNI’s goal to fuel the nurse faculty pipeline in New Jersey; it helped lay the groundwork for NJNI’s current focus on what and how nurse faculty teach the next generation of nurses.

NJNI Program Co-Director Susan W. Salmond, EdD, RN, ANEF, FAAN, executive vice dean and professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing, praised CLC Director Diane Billings, PhD, RN, chancellor’s professor emeritus at the Indiana University School of Nursing, for her contributions to the Faculty Preparation Program. “She’s been an integral part of the whole Scholar process,” Salmond said. “It’s amazing to see how involved she’s been in the lives of the Scholars.”

Because “Diane has been the star of the CLC program,” Salmond presented her with a certificate from the International Star Registry, showing that NJNI had named a star after Billings.

Over time, Billings said, CLC learning sessions and meetings were opened up to a broader audience than the Scholars the program supported, including nursing school faculty and health care administrators in the state. “I really feel we made an impact on deans and faculty, because we were talking about a new way to teach,” Billings said, “and as our Scholars finished their studies and came back into the nursing schools to teach, they’ve encountered an openness to new faculty input and new teaching strategies because we eventually included all faculty in our meetings. We’ve influenced many more people than the Scholars.”

Nanette Sulik, MSN, RN, CSN, a PhD Scholar at Rutgers, said, “The CLC made an incredible difference for me. Diane was absolutely amazing. I’ve taught for years, and the CLC has made me rethink things I’d taken for granted. I’ve been exposed to new practices and new points of view, and that has made me a better nurse educator.”

The gathering also provided an opportunity to recognize the final cohort of New Jersey Nursing Scholars. Five will receive their PhDs from Seton Hall University in May: Jeannie Couper, MSN, RN-BC; Lisa Heelan, MSN, FNP-BC, ANP-BC; Katherine Hinic, MS, APRN-BC; Patricia Ricci-Allegra, APN, CPNP; and Lori Wilt, MSN, RN, CSN. Five PhD Scholars at Rutgers are expected to finish their studies later this year: Ola Aloba, MSN, WHNP, APN; Donna Fountain, MA, MSN, APRN, PHCNS-BC; Emilia Iwu, RN, MSN, APN-C, FWACN; Sulik; and Mary Thomas, MSN, RNC.

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Alumni and Scholars Update

  • Alumna Tracy Perron, PhD, RN, CNE, CSN, and alumnus Robert Scoloveno, PhD, RN, CCRN, are working on two of the three $50,000 grants awarded by the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) to nursing schools to plan pilot projects that bring academic and practice partners together on innovative curricular issues related to community-based care and promoting healthy lifestyles. Perron, an assistant professor at the College of New Jersey, is on the project team for the grant, “Using an Academic-Practice Partnership to Enhance Population-Focused Health Care in BSN Education: Planning for the Future.” Scoloveno, the simulation lab director and an assistant professor at Rutgers-Camden, is the project director for the grant, “Redesigning Nursing Education to Address the Challenges and Opportunities for Population Health.” These projects, along with one at Rutgers-Newark/New Brunswick that is focused on elder population health, will be considered for implementation grants for the 2015-16 academic year.
  • Alumna Maria LoGrippo, PhD, RN, MSN, NE-BC, who teaches nursing at Rutgers and Seton Hall University, is continuing her work with the New Jersey Action Coalition (NJAC) as the project director for its Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing State Implementation Program grant. NJAC recently received a second round of funding to support and sustain its efforts to encourage nurses to continue their education and obtain bachelor’s or higher degrees.

If you are a New Jersey Nursing Scholar alumna or alumnus, or a current Scholar, please let NJNI know what’s new with you, so you can be featured in the next Alumni and Scholars Update section of the newsletter. Send your news about new jobs, research, publications, and more to

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Did You Know…?

  • Marie Foley, PhD, RN, CNL, has been appointed dean of the Seton Hall University College of Nursing. Foley, also an associate professor at Seton Hall, has served as project director for the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) Faculty Preparation Program at the university.
  • National Nurses Week is May 6-12 and the theme this year is “Ethical Practice. Quality Care.” Let NJNI know what you’re doing in observance by tweeting with the hashtags #NursesWeek and #NJNI.
  • NJNI has launched a new website at, featuring a fresh design, enhanced mobile device compatibility, and a Resources & Tools Library designed to support nurses and nurse faculty throughout their careers.
  • The New Jersey Hospital Association hosted its annual Nurses in the Boardroom learning session on February 5. In addition to an overview of boardroom structure and competencies, this year’s session featured an in-depth discussion on health care finance and quality and patient safety. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Senior Adviser for Nursing Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, delivered the keynote address urging nurse leaders to apply their talents and expertise in boardroom settings. Learn about future sessions at
  • NJNI is active on social media, and wants to connect with you! Be sure to follow @NJNIprogram on Twitter, and keep up with NJNI on Facebook at

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