Newsletter Issue 14: July 2013

In This Issue:

New Leadership for NJNI
A ‘Watershed Moment’ for the New Jersey Nursing Initiative
Moving Words as Susan Bakewell-Sachs Moves On
Treating Depression in Single Black Mothers
Academic Resource Center of New Jersey Celebrates Its Accomplishments
In Memoriam: Rich Hader
Coming Soon: Alumni Update
Did You Know…?

New Leadership for NJNI

The New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) welcomed Aline M. Holmes, MSN, RN, and Susan W. Salmond, EdD, RN, ANEF, FAAN, on July 1 as program directors following the departure of Susan Bakewell-Sachs, PhD, RN, PNP-BC, who had served in that position since NJNI’s inception. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation launched NJNI in 2009 to address the state’s nurse faculty shortage and help avert the projected shortage of more than 23,000 nurses in New Jersey in less than two decades.

“Aline Holmes and Susan Salmond bring exceptional skills and experience to NJNI,” said RWJF’s senior adviser for nursing, Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN. “Their passion for promoting the health and well-being of New Jersey’s citizens is apparent in their work, and that translates beautifully to the mission of NJNI: ensuring that a nurse will be there for you.”

Holmes is the senior vice president for clinical affairs at the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) in Princeton, as well as the director of the NJHA Institute for Quality & Patient Safety. She also serves as a principal investigator/project director for several patient safety improvement initiatives funded by RWJF and the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, and directs NJHA’s efforts under a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services contract to serve as a Hospital Engagement Network in the Partnership for Patients national initiative.

A U.S. Navy Nurse Corps veteran, Holmes completed her undergraduate studies in nursing at the University of Massachusetts and received her master’s of science in nursing from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She is pursuing a doctorate in nursing leadership at Rutgers University. Her hospital background includes leadership roles in nursing administration, patient care services, and operations. She has also served as an advanced practice nurse, worked in long-term care and managed care, and held faculty appointments in New Jersey, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

“As a nurse and as an administrator, I’ve long known the fundamental role that nurses have in providing care and promoting health,” Holmes said. “I’m eager to tackle the challenges in New Jersey that NJNI has focused on so tirelessly for four years.”

Salmond is dean and professor at Rutgers School of Nursing (formerly the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey). She spearheaded development of New Jersey’s first doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree program, which was launched at the school in 2006. Under her leadership, the school has also established new master’s programs in clinical leadership, advanced community health nursing, advanced emergency nursing, and nursing education. Salmond serves as co-chair of the New Jersey Action Coalition’s Academic Progression Committee and has been a member of NJNI’s Leadership Council.

She received her bachelor’s of science in nursing from the Villanova University College of Nursing, which in 2012 presented her its highest honor, the College of Nursing Medallion. She is a 2012 inductee into the Hall of Honor at the Seton Hall University College of Nursing, where she received her master’s of science in nursing with a specialization in chronic illness management. She earned her doctor of education degree from Teachers College, Columbia University.

“NJNI has made remarkable progress in fueling the pipeline of nurse faculty in the state,” said Salmond. “It’s an honor to assume the leadership of NJNI, with Aline Holmes, and build on its success.”

Bakewell-Sachs, who also until recently was interim provost of The College of New Jersey, has been appointed dean of the School of Nursing and vice president for nursing affairs at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

NJNI’s Faculty Preparation Program has supported 61 New Jersey Nursing Scholars who are pursuing, or have completed, master’s or doctoral degrees in New Jersey nursing programs. These nurses are now poised to assume nurse faculty roles in the state.

NJNI launched, a website dedicated to nurse faculty career information. NJNI has also led the development of several clinical innovations projects across the state to more closely link nursing education and practice, including dedicated education units and renewed education for clinical preceptors. It has a key role in the New Jersey Action Coalition, which helps the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action implement recommendations from the Institute of Medicine’s landmark 2010 nursing report as part of a nationwide effort to transform nursing and the delivery of health care in America.

Promoting leadership is a high priority for NJNI, Salmond and Holmes both agreed.  “There are many parallels between NJNI and the New Jersey Action Coalition, in terms of education and faculty preparation, and I’d like to see those activities coordinated,” said Holmes. “One of the Action Coalition’s pillars is leadership, and I see NJNI having an increasingly vital role in developing future leaders. There is a great opportunity for professionals in this health care environment, with factors such as chronic conditions and community-based care. NJNI can cultivate leaders in this environment, but we have to provide people with the right skills.”

“I also see a focus on leadership in academia,” said Salmond. “What do future leaders need in their schools and communities in order to thrive? By engaging alumni scholars as well as new people, NJNI can move academic goals forward. It’s also important for NJNI to look at its success and see how it can be replicated elsewhere. Highlighting our partnerships and promoting awareness of curriculum innovations is a big part of what needs to happen going forward.”
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A ‘Watershed Moment’ for the New Jersey Nursing Initiative

Innovative program’s first PhD scholars graduate, joining pipeline of nurses prepared to fill faculty positions in the Garden State.

How do you sum up four years devoted to pursuing a doctorate in nursing? “It was a remarkable opportunity that opened so many doors for the way I’ll function as a nursing educator and a researcher,” said Sheila Linz, PhD, PMHNP-BC, RN, one of eight nurses whose spring graduations represent a milestone for the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI): the first New Jersey Nursing Scholars to complete PhD degrees.
With the graduation of five PhD scholars at Seton Hall University on May 18, three at Rutgers on May 23, plus one master’s of science in nursing (MSN) scholar at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey on May 20, NJNI has supported 47 scholars whose master’s or doctoral degrees qualify them for nurse faculty positions.
An additional 13 PhD scholars and one additional MSN scholar continue in their graduate nursing programs with support from NJNI, which was launched by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation in 2009 to address the state’s staggering 10.5 percent nurse faculty vacancy rate and help avert a projected shortage of nurses in New Jersey.
“This is truly a watershed moment for NJNI,” said RWJF Senior Program Officer Maryjoan D. Ladden, PhD, RN, FAAN. “With just two nursing PhD programs in New Jersey, it’s a challenge to get 21 scholars through those institutions. The fact that the first eight PhD scholars have completed their programs in four years, when it often takes considerably longer, reflects an amazing commitment from the schools and intense mentoring from faculty. And it reflects the potential these women and men have to be dynamic forces in nursing education and practice.”
The New Jersey Nursing Scholars who graduated in May:
Seton Hall University
• Connie Kartoz, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, whose research focus is medication adherence in older adults living independently in the community;
• Sheila  Linz, PhD, PMHNP-BC, RN, whose research focus is social isolation in the severely mentally ill;
• Maria Torchia LoGrippo, PhD, RN, whose research focus is how trusting relationships between pregnant women and certified nurse-midwives lead to positive outcomes for mothers and their babies;
• Kristi Stinson, PhD, RN, APN-C, whose research focus is attitudes toward the use of physical restraints in critical care environments;
• Munira Wells, PhD, RN, whose research focus is New Jersey nurses who were born in India and faced culture shock in the United States;
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

• Rahshida Atkins, PhD, APN, FNP-BC, whose research focus is depression in Black single mothers;
• Tracy Perron, PhD, RN, whose research focus is school bullying;
• Robert Scoloveno, PhD, RN, whose research focus is how resilience affects the health outcomes of middle adolescents; and
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
• Julie Aseltta, MSN, RN.
“The New Jersey Nursing Scholars are part of the legacy of NJNI,” said founding program director Susan Bakewell-Sachs, PhD, RN, PNP-BC, “but more importantly, they are part of the future of nursing in New Jersey. They were chosen because of their skills and accomplishments, but also because of NJNI’s hope for tomorrow—that these scholars will become the next generation of faculty we need to be sure we can teach the next generation of nurses. I’m so happy with the progress we’ve made.”
The nursing population is aging, with only 8 percent of New Jersey nurses younger than 30. The average age of the state’s nurses is 51, and the average age of nurse faculty is 55. A recent study projects a shortage of 23,358 nurses in New Jersey by 2030.
What’s Next
Linz and classmates Stinson and Wells will teach at Seton Hall this fall. “I’ve grown more than I expected as I pursued my PhD,” said Stinson. “It’s been a big lesson in time management. Using all the lessons that NJNI provided the scholars, I hope I can be a change agent.”
“Getting my PhD as a New Jersey Nursing Scholar has made a big difference for me,” said Wells. “It’s involved collaboration and networking not just with leaders in New Jersey, but experts from around the country. There are more opportunities open to me now.”
LoGrippo’s plans include post-doctoral research at Rutgers, part-time teaching, and serving as project director for the New Jersey Action Coalition’s State Implementation Program grant. “My PhD experience has made me committed to improving nursing education in New Jersey, and it’s made me want to continue to do research and provide evidence-based practices for the clinical environment and education,” she said.
“Being a New Jersey Nursing Scholar and working with RWJF has given me access to leaders in nursing in a way I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise,” said Kartoz, who will be an assistant professor at The College of New Jersey this fall. “I’ve been exposed to national perspectives from exceptional people, and I’ve come to believe I can follow the example of these leaders.”
Two scholars from Rutgers will soon return to the classroom as well.
“I definitely want to continue my research, because I’m passionate about my topic. Plus, I love teaching,” said Perron, who will teach full time at Kean University this fall. “This opportunity came at a perfect time for me. I had to get my PhD if I wanted to advance in academia.”
Scoloveno plans to be an assistant professor and director of clinical simulation at Rutgers School of Nursing-Camden this fall. “I’m amazed by how fast the time has gone by and how much I’ve grown in ways I didn’t expect,” he said. “The contacts I’ve made will be a great resource throughout my career.”
Atkins works as a family nurse practitioner and is looking into post-doctoral research opportunities. She called her experience as a New Jersey Nursing Scholar “a privilege.” It’s “broadened my view of nursing education and research. My vision for educational success and scholarship was enhanced by rubbing shoulders with seasoned nurse educators.”
Learn more about the New Jersey Nursing Initiative.
Reproduced with permission of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, N.J.
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Moving Words as Susan Bakewell-Sachs Moves On

Words of praise for Susan Bakewell-Sachs, PhD, RN, PNP-BC, flowed freely at Eno Terra restaurant near Princeton, N.J., on June 6 as the founding program director of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) and her colleagues gathered for a farewell dinner. Bakewell-Sachs is relocating to Portland to serve as dean of the School of Nursing and vice president for nursing affairs at Oregon Health & Science University.
“I can’t begin to express my gratitude for the privilege of working with all of you and having your trust to do this work,” Bakewell-Sachs said. “I was initially worried about my ability to deliver, but, as true with every project, it can never be accomplished alone. It’s hard to leave. I’m hoping to make a contribution in Oregon based on what I’ve learned here. It’s been an incredible honor to be part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and to have so many partnerships supporting the work of NJNI.”
Bakewell-Sachs has made an indelible impact on nursing in New Jersey, as reflected in comments throughout the evening:
“Without Susan’s vision and dedication, we wouldn’t have 47 scholars so far who have completed advanced degrees and are prepared to teach New Jersey’s next generation of nurses. She made that happen. From the business community’s perspective, that’s a very good thing.”—Dana Egreczky, senior vice president for workforce development, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, and president, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation
“She has been an ever-present force with a positive vision. She’s always displayed an attitude of ‘We can do it; nothing can stand in our way.’ She was able to look at all the barriers and see the possibilities beyond them. After knowing her for 20 years, she tops a long list of exceptional nurse leaders.”—Mary Wachter, MS, RN, government affairs, Genentech, and National Advisory Committee member, New Jersey Nursing Initiative
“She truly has a gift for bringing people together. She is quick to recognize people and identify their contributions to a common goal.”—Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, senior adviser for nursing, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
“Susan’s legacy is reflected not only in the master’s- and PhD-prepared nurses that NJNI has supported, but also in the countless number of future nurses who will benefit from the skills and insights that she helped NJNI’s scholars gain.”—John R. Lumpkin, MD, MPH, senior vice president and director of the Health Care Group, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and chair of the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Board of Directors
“She’s been able to forge partnerships between academia and practice sites in ways that people have not been able to before, and it’s due to her collaborative nature, wonderful communication skills, positive attitude, respect, and clinical expertise. She leveraged NJNI into new realms. She’s so skilled at talking to legislators, the business community, consumers, practitioners, and the academic community, and crossing into all of those places. That’s what NJNI needs, and why it’s successful.”—Maryjoan D. Ladden, PhD, RN, FAAN, senior program officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
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Treating Depression in Single Black Mothers

RWJF Scholar seeks to improve mental health care for a population at risk.

Problem: Single Black mothers are a population at high risk for depressive symptoms. However, there is little evidence-based knowledge about how to accurately identify, appropriately treat, and prevent depressive symptoms in this vulnerable group of women to ensure that they, and their children, can lead happier, healthier, and more productive lives.
Background: Raised in a non-traditional, low-income household headed by a single mother in inner-city New Jersey, Rahshida Atkins triumphed over the challenging circumstances of her childhood, and now she’s helping other women and children do the same.
Atkins attended some of the lowest-achieving public schools in New Jersey, but she nevertheless saw education as a path out of poverty. She studied hard, became her high school’s valedictorian, earned a scholarship to Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing with highest honors and a near-perfect grade-point-average.
Atkins didn’t stop there; while holding jobs as a graduate research assistant, nursing course instructor, and a registered nurse (RN), she earned her master’s degree in nursing. This led to a position as a family nurse practitioner and alternate administrator at a medical day care for children with special needs, and various university-level adjunct teaching positions. She recently completed her doctoral degree as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) New Jersey Nursing Scholar, supported by the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI).
Now at the end of her long and successful educational journey, Atkins, PhD, FNP-BC, has not forgotten where she started. For her doctoral dissertation, she studied ways to alleviate depression among single Black mothers. “My mom was a single Black mother, and many female relatives and friends are as well,” Atkins says. “I saw them struggle with psychosocial and mental challenges.”
She wants to help single mothers like her mother, her relatives, and the mothers she encountered at the medical day care where she worked. Many of these women were unable to adequately care for themselves or their children. Some had difficulties keeping appointments with health care providers and adhering to medical recommendations. In one memorable case, a child was malnourished.
Atkins suspected that mental health problems—caused by factors such as poor and unstable living conditions, intermittent employment, short-term relationships, poverty, and other psychosocial challenges, including racism—were to blame. Even when women had outside supports, such as government-provided health insurance coverage or access to free transportation, depression and other mental health challenges robbed them of the motivation they needed to care effectively for themselves and their children, she says.
Identifying and treating depression, however, isn’t easy. For cultural reasons, some women in the Black community who have mental health problems may be reluctant to come forward, and others might be unaware that they may be suffering from mental illness, Atkins says. Even if they are aware, there aren’t clear, evidence-based interventions to treat and prevent the problem. in this particular population.
Solution: Atkins, however, is working to change that. As a New Jersey Nursing Scholar, Atkins studied a group of more than 200 single Black mothers in Camden and Trenton, N.J., to develop a theory about the cultural and psychosocial factors that contribute to depression. in the population.
She found that anger, stress, perceived racism, and low self-esteem were linked in different ways to the development of depressive symptoms among study participants. Atkins used the findings to develop a theory to guide nursing research and practice in the area. Health care providers, she hopes, will be able to use the theory to better understand the causes of depression in the population and make more informed recommendations for treatment and prevention.
They might, for example, talk to women who exhibit signs of depression about the effects of racism or refer them to someone who can teach them anger management strategies or cognitive behavioral techniques to help overcome stress or low self-esteem.
Atkins hopes to conduct more research on successful treatment and prevention interventions. Her research has the potential to help large numbers of women and children. The percentage of single mothers is surging, according to a May report by the U.S. Census Bureau. Black women had the highest rate of single motherhood, making them particularly vulnerable to depressive symptoms, Atkins says.
“I want to prevent depressive symptoms, or diminish them, and improve quality-of-life so these women can maintain employment, enjoy stable relationships, and become productive members of society,” she says. That, she adds, will be good for their children, and for the country, too.
RWJF Perspective: The nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to improving health and health care, RWJF is committed to narrowing health disparities and improving mental health and mental health care. Atkins is helping to advance those goals as a scholar with the New Jersey Nursing Initiative, a project of RWJF and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
The New Jersey Nursing Initiative runs a Faculty Preparation Program that supports master’s- and doctoral-degree scholars in New Jersey who are interested in becoming nurse faculty. For her part, Atkins plans to teach while pursuing post-doctoral research into depression in single Black mothers.
Reproduced with permission of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, N.J.
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Academic Resource Center of New Jersey Celebrates Its Accomplishments

After three years of providing specialized Web tools to boost the academic writing and research skills of New Jersey nurses enrolled in graduate programs, the Academic Resource Center of New Jersey (ARC) came to a close with a luncheon, held on June 5 at the Hilton Newark Penn Station, at which supporters celebrated ARC’s achievements.

Based at the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI), ARC was launched with a grant from Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future (PIN), a partnership between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Northwest Health Foundation that helps regional foundations develop local solutions to nursing workforce challenges. For the ARC project, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey served as the lead foundation in building a coalition of funders to match the $245,000 PIN grant.

“PIN was shrewd in wanting to get a drumbeat going at the local level as a way to get more funders engaged in nursing,” said Joan Hollendonner, senior program officer at The Horizon Foundation. “It worked for Horizon. We went on to fund the New Jersey Action Coalition, and we’ve integrated incentives for applicants to include nursing in other health proposals.”

Summing up ARC’s track record for the luncheon attendees, Hollendonner said, “It was designed for 1,000 students, and it wound up serving 2,000. Writing scores improved. We engaged many schools. We had to raise $245,000 in matching funds, and we raised $450,000. I hope there will be many opportunities for us all to work together in the future.”

Hollendonner praised ARC’s project administrator, Christel Perkins, MS Ed, as the “heart and soul of the program,” and they both recognized the coalition of institutions, faculty members, and local funders—including the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, Johnson & Johnson, the F.M. Kirby Foundation, the Provident Bank Charitable Foundation, the Edward W. and Stella C. Van Houten Memorial Fund at Wells Fargo, and the Verizon Foundation—that made ARC possible.

“I’m especially grateful to the deans and institutions,” said Perkins. “In academia, it can be difficult to get buy-in for trying something new, so their support was meaningful.” Participating institutions included the College of Saint Elizabeth, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Felician College, Kean University, Monmouth University, Ramapo College, Rutgers University, Saint Peter’s University, Seton Hall University, The College of New Jersey, Thomas Edison State College, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and William Paterson University.

Reflecting on the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey’s involvement, Program Officer Marcy Felsenfeld, MPA, said, “Traditionally, the Academic Resource Center isn’t something we would fund. We did it because we were part of a bigger puzzle. In this collaboration, we learned more about the issues facing nursing and how important it is. I look for this in other grants now. I ask different questions. Now we’ve invested in a nurse-managed practice at Rutgers. New relationships have opened up.”

Funding ARC has made a difference for The Horizon Foundation, too, said Hollendonner. “We were just examining how to get into nursing when this opportunity came along. We now have a good knowledge base on the subject, with national perspective from PIN, and state perspective from NJNI. This collaboration led us to support the New Jersey Action Coalition as well, and that’s something we expect to continue. We’re eager to see what the next opportunity is.”
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In Memoriam: Rich Hader

The New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) community was saddened by the news that Rich Hader, PhD, RN, FAAN, died on March 25.

It was an honor to work with such a gifted nurse leader. Hader was a champion of NJNI and co-chair of the committee focused on increasing faculty capacity. In particular, he dedicated time to the Innovations in Clinical Education (ICE) program, helping make what began as an exciting idea a reality.

The leaders of four ICE pilot projects completed their work last year and presented their findings at an ICE forum earlier this year. Their success is a tribute to Hader’s passionate belief that academia and practice must partner to improve clinical education if we are to have the diverse, highly qualified nursing workforce that New Jersey deserves.

Hader was committed to helping the next generation strive to be the best, and spent time at NJNI annual meetings talking with and inspiring the New Jersey Nursing Scholars.

We are proud to have called Hader a colleague, and proud to see his legacy reflected in NJNI.

Read more about Hader’s life in his obituary and at

Coming Soon: Alumni Update

The New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) will launch a new feature in the next issue of the newsletter: Alumni Update. We want to spread the word about all the great things New Jersey Nursing Scholars have been doing since graduation.
Have you gotten a new job or a promotion? Have you published recently? Are you exploring a new research subject? Send your news to NJNI Deputy Director Jennifer Polakowski via
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Did You Know…?

The Collaborative Learning Community (CLC) for the new academic year will get underway with a two-day workshop devoted to the National League for Nursing (NLN) Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) exam. Sessions will be held at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on October 3 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and on October 4 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

While the workshop will serve as a review for the CNE exam, it is also appropriate for faculty who are new to teaching and wish to obtain an overview of the role of the nurse educator, and for experienced nurse educators and alumni scholars who wish to reflect on their own teaching and update their competencies. The workshop is structured around the NLN scope of practice for the nurse educator and the six educator competencies that are tested on the CNE exam. The interactive sessions, led by Diane Billings, EdD, RN, FAAN, will include the following topics:

  • Facilitate Learning
  • Facilitate Learner Development and Socialization, Use Assessment and Evaluation Strategies
  • Participate in Curriculum Design and Evaluation of Program Outcomes
  • Pursue Continuous Quality Improvement in the Academic Nurse Educator Role; Engage in Scholarship, Service and Leadership; Function as a Change Agent and Leader; Engage in Scholarship of Teaching; Function Effectively Within the Institutional Environment and the Academic Community

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Newsletter Issue 13: April 2013

In This Issue:

Accomplishments and Aspirations: NJNI Explores Innovations in Clinical Education
Leader’s Column: NJNI 2.0
RWJF Scholar Tackles Childhood Obesity
Catching Up With the CLC
Did You Know…?

Accomplishments and Aspirations: NJNI Explores Innovations in Clinical Education

After a year of supporting four pilot projects devoted to innovations in clinical education (ICE), the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) brought together educators and practitioners at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) for two day-long forums that explored NJNI’s initial ICE areas: the dedicated education unit (DEU), preceptor strategies, and clinical simulation.

“These small-scale projects are important as we move to larger-scale efforts,” NJNI Program Director Susan Bakewell-Sachs, PhD, RN, PNP-BC, told attendees at the first forum, which was held on Jan. 25, 2013, and highlighted the work of nursing schools and practice organizations that partnered for the pilot grants:

  • Georgian Court-Meridian Health School of Nursing and Meridian Health Affiliated Foundations (simulation);
  • Fairleigh Dickinson University and Holy Name Medical Center (preceptor strategies);
  • Rutgers-Newark College of Nursing and Saint Peter’s University Hospital (simulation); and
  • William Paterson University and St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center (DEU).

Facing Challenges, Finding Success

In the Georgian Court/Meridian simulation project, students in the five-year-old nursing program worked alongside medical students to build interprofessional collaboration skills. The effort was successful, although the dynamic could be challenging. At times, “nursing students would defer to medical students, who had less experience than they did,” said Teri Wurmser, PhD, MPH, RN, NEA-BC, chair of the Georgian Court-Meridian Health School of Nursing. By the end of the project, outcomes and feedback encouraged its leaders to explore additional opportunities for interprofessional curriculum planning and for learning activities that engage students from different health care disciplines.

Representatives of the Rutgers/Saint Peter’s project reported that expanding high-fidelity simulation, already an established tool in the classroom, into the hospital setting served a dual purpose: It allowed Saint Peter’s to access emerging technologies for nurses’ continuing education, and it increased student interaction with experienced professionals.

A primary goal of the Fairleigh Dickinson/Holy Name project was to use preceptors in the community setting—home care, hospice, and palliative care. Although some preceptors were initially reluctant to allow students to perform more complex procedures, the project progressed successfully. Students gave positive evaluations of their experiences with the preceptors, and the nurses who served as preceptors expressed a desire for continued involvement in the education of nursing students. “They all said they were willing to be a preceptor again,” said Minerva Guttman, EdD, RN, NP, director of the nursing school at Fairleigh Dickinson. “We were very happy with that.”

Julie Bliss, EdD, RN, chair of the William Paterson University Department of Nursing, emphasized that one of the most significant challenges in launching a DEU at St. Joseph’s was ensuring adequate administrative support. “These are huge decisions we had to make,” she said of issues such as faculty roles, schedules, and expenses. “We needed to get buy-in at the university” as well as the nursing unit. Now the pilot project has laid the groundwork for a sustainable academic-practice partnership, including the addition of a pediatrics DEU.

Bakewell-Sachs praised all of the projects for the “enthusiasm and passion they have applied. Beyond the NJNI grants, this was an opportunity to bring people to the table. There really is an opportunity here to change education.”

“This is our future, folks,” she added. “This is part of our legacy, moving these issues forward.”

See presentation materials from the first ICE forum online.

Delving Into the DEU

NJNI’s second ICE forum, held on March 8, 2013, focused exclusively on the DEU model and why it should be a priority for educators and practitioners. In welcoming attendees, Bakewell-Sachs pointed out that “NJNI now has a convening role for the entire state, and that allows us to tackle big issues and bring in national perspectives.”

RWJF Senior Program Officer Maryjoan D. Ladden, PhD, RN, FAAN, also welcomed attendees. “Conversations like this one are critical to bring academic and practice communities together,” she said.

Susan Randles Moscato, EdD, RN, professor emerita at the University of Portland in Oregon, delivered the keynote address and moderated a panel that featured two other DEU experts from Portland, Cindy Lorion, RN, MSN, NE-BC, CMSRN, of Providence St. Vincent Medical Center and Chad O’Lynn, PhD, RN, RA, of the University of Portland, as well as DEU expert JoAnn Mulready-Shick, EdD, RN, CNE, ANEF, of the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

“Before the DEU was introduced 12 years ago at the University of Portland, we had good students, strong faculty,” Moscato said, “but students did not have good clinical experiences. The DEU brought us consistency and organization of the clinical environment, and a systematic plan to optimize clinical resources.”

As she introduced the panel, Moscato observed that “we can’t talk about nursing education only through faculty preparation. We have to talk about clinical education. I’m thrilled that we’re able to have these challenging conversations.”

O’Lynn discussed the importance of the clinical faculty coordinator’s role and efforts to adapt the Portland model to long-term care settings. “It’s not just about bringing students into these settings,” he said. “It’s about giving them meaningful experiences.”

Mulready-Shick said that a primary obstacle to the expansion of nursing education capacity nationwide is a lack of faculty and a lack of clinical sites. “The more evidence we have, the better to make the case for DEUs,” she said, adding that research at her institution has revealed a major finding: “DEU students spend twice as much time receiving instruction as traditional students do.”

As the day wound down, Bakewell-Sachs noted that efforts to expand DEUs in New Jersey come with challenges, notably that regulations require a ratio of one master’s-prepared faculty member for every 10 students, limiting full implementation of the DEU model that has staff nurses as preceptors. In addition, only about one out of every 10 registered nurses in the state has a master’s degree in nursing, the minimum standard to teach. “NJNI is committed to connecting clinical nurses to education,” she said. “We want to combat the statement ‘I will teach when I retire.’ However, the issue of DEUs is not ours alone. The state Board of Nursing has been involved and knows what NJNI is doing but needs to hear from all of us. These academic-practice partnerships are mutually beneficial and can support quality clinical education. If we’re not all on the same page yet, I want us all to at least be on the same bookshelf.”

Roxanne Sabatini, RN-BC, MSN, CCRN, a nurse educator at Morristown Medical Center, said the forum covered many of the issues that have to be considered in her community. “We’ve heard about DEUs for a long time,” she said, “and we’re very interested. It can be difficult, though, to have a unit for one school when there are multiple colleges and schools of nursing in our area. We have many stakeholders, and we want to be sure we make the right match.”
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Leader’s Column: NJNI 2.0

By Susan Bakewell-Sachs, PhD, RN, PNP-BC, program director of theNew Jersey Nursing Initiative

To many people, the New Jersey Nursing Initiative means scholarships, and I’m often asked when aspiring nurse faculty can apply for the next round of funds. I respond that NJNI is shifting its focus—and that’s good news.

It doesn’t mean that we’ve solved New Jersey’s nurse faculty shortage and looming nurse shortage, but it signals that there are multiple ways to address those crucial issues. That’s why NJNI is moving into its next phase.

In the first phase of the program, the major areas of focus and strategy were faculty preparation through master’s and doctoral education, building faculty capacity, making faculty a preferred career, securing funding to sustain support for nurse faculty in the state, and building collaboration. To date, the Faculty Preparation Program has resulted in 40 scholars graduated with master’s degrees, and the first cohort of 11 PhD scholars will graduate this year and join the faculty ranks, helping to fill vacancies and sustain educational capacity. Master’s graduates are teaching, practicing and/or returning to school for nursing practice (DNP) and research (PhD) doctoral study.

Examples of other recent accomplishments include completion of four pilot projects focused on innovative clinical education models and involving preceptors, simulation, or dedicated education unit development (faculty capacity support); annual meeting on geriatrics in nursing education and Collaborative Learning Community programs on a range of topics relating to the current national agenda (faculty preparation); continuing collaboration with the N.J. Action Coalition in support of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action (nursing education and leadership); and reaching the milestone of 2,000 graduate students gaining scholarly writing support through the online Academic Resource Center (advanced degrees).

Reauthorization of the program in 2011 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation allowed for a second cohort of PhD scholars to be admitted that fall at the Rutgers and Seton Hall colleges of nursing and provided funding through 2016 to continue to combat the faculty shortage and transform nursing education. In the next phase, which we refer to in the program office as “NJNI 2.0,” we are specifically focusing on leadership development and education progression beyond the baccalaureate degree. We need many more nurses to earn master’s and doctoral degrees to meet the demands for practice, education and research. Master’s and doctoral education is changing as advanced practice programs convert from master’s to DNP programs. However, hospitals and other health care organizations report needing master’s-level nurses who are not advanced practice nurses, and there will continue to be high demand for nurses with research doctoral degrees such as the PhD.

NJNI will be collaborating with academic and practice partners to discern how the advanced degree pipeline can meet health and health care needs going forward. Expected retirements of senior faculty and other nurse leaders in New Jersey will result in a loss of wisdom and a potential leadership void. NJNI has begun to engage stakeholders to determine specific goals NJNI should aim for with regard to leadership development, continuing an emphasis on supporting New Jersey Nursing Scholars and other faculty. We continue to collaborate with partner schools and others in the NJNI network, the N.J. Action Coalition, the Council of Magnet Hospitals, and other groups and individuals to inform and leverage our efforts.

As always, the NJNI program office keeps up with national conversations as well as those happening in the state. We will continue to convene meetings, facilitate dialogue, provide information, and support collaborative efforts. Thank you for your support to date and your continued commitment in the future.
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RWJF Scholar Tackles Childhood Obesity

New Jersey Nursing Scholar explores effects of neighborhood safety, family, and acculturation on Latina adolescent health.

Problem: The rate of childhood obesity is dangerously high and putting kids at risk for health problems normally associated with adults, such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. Minority and low-income youth face particular barriers to achieving healthy weights for cultural and environmental reasons.

Background: When Shanda Johnson was a young girl, she watched in awe as nurses helped her family members survive a number of health problems including strokes, diabetes, and hypertension. She knew then that she wanted to grow up to be a nurse, and was given a strong blessing by her grandmother, who had wanted one of her six daughters to join a profession she believed was well-suited to women. None had done so, but Johnson wanted to fulfill her grandmother’s wish—and that she did.

“I told my grandma I’ll be her nurse,” Johnson says. “She didn’t live to see me finish, but she knew I was on my way and that was good enough for me.”

At age 21, Johnson, MS, RN, APN-C, FNP, became an orthopedic nurse in the medical-surgical department at a hospital in New Jersey and soon after decided to earn her master’s degree to become a family nurse practitioner. The position appealed to her because it enabled her to work with patients of all ages and backgrounds.

Johnson planned to earn her doctorate degree immediately after her master’s, but she became pregnant and had a son and decided to put plans to advance her education on hold while he was young.

When her son was in kindergarten, Johnson applied to the school of nursing at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) New Jersey Nursing Initiative, which runs a Faculty Preparation Program that supports master’s and doctoral New Jersey Nursing Scholars who are interested in becoming nurse faculty. The goal is to ensure that the state has the well-prepared, diverse nursing faculty it needs to educate nurses to meet the demand for health care in the 21st century. Each scholar receives a scholarship covering tuition and fees, a $50,000-per-year living stipend, and a laptop.

Now in her fourth and final year of the program, Johnson plans to complete her research and earn her doctoral degree this spring and become a professor of nursing at a New Jersey college or university.

During her studies, Johnson has been working part-time as a nurse practitioner at a pediatrician’s office serving an urban, minority community in Plainfield, N.J., that has a high number of patients—including children—who are overweight or obese. Last December, for example, a 14-year-old girl came to the office and weighed in at 232 pounds—far above the healthy body weight for girls her age. The girl had high blood pressure and high cholesterol, two problems normally associated with adults but increasingly common in overweight children.

Johnson was saddened, but not surprised; ever since she started working there, she’s treated a number of overweight and obese teenage girls who are experiencing hypertension and high cholesterol as well as other health problems such as diabetes, depression, and social problems.

“A lot of the kids are being bullied because of their weight,” Johnson says. “And they don’t want to take physical education courses—the very kinds of courses they need to lose weight—because they don’t want to be bullied or made fun of. They’re dealing with that, too.”

Curbing obesity rates, however, is notoriously difficult to do, especially in low-income communities like the one in which Johnson works. Kids are inclined to stay indoors—and sedentary—because they don’t live in safe neighborhoods; because many live with migrant parents who are working multiple jobs and are not home to cook healthy meals; and because nearby grocery and convenience stores do not offer healthy items.

“These kids walk to school and eat Doritos and Pepsi, and that’s their breakfast,” Johnson says. “After school, a lot of them go out for fast food. Near one of the middle schools in our community, there’s a Wendy’s, a McDonald’s, a White Castle, a Burger King, and Italian and Chinese restaurants—all within walking distance of the school. These places wait for school to get out to serve them those high-calorie fast foods.”

Solution: There’s no silver bullet to a problem as complex as the nation’s high rate of childhood obesity, so Johnson is tackling the problem one step at a time. For her doctoral research, she’s exploring how neighborhood safety, the family, and acculturation—the process by which the patient or patient’s family has assimilated into American culture—affect the weights of adolescent Latinas.

For the study, Johnson will ask girls between the ages of 14 and 18 to fill out surveys about crime in their neighborhoods and whether it deters them from taking part in outdoor exercise. She will also ask about family relationships and about assimilation into the U.S. culture. And she will gauge the respondents’ allostatic loads—a person’s physiological response to stress—by measuring waist circumference, blood pressure, height, and weight.

The results aren’t in yet, but she hypothesizes that unsafe neighborhoods, family relationships, and acculturation into American society are linked to higher rates of stress and, consequently, obesity among teenage Hispanic girls. Johnson hopes her dissertation will form the basis of a research portfolio in adolescent health. She plans to develop the portfolio as a professor of nursing in New Jersey after she graduates this spring.

In addition to being a full-time student, Johnson is also maintaining her clinical practice as a nurse practitioner, and is the main caregiver for her 8-year-old son—so her life is more than full. Of her very busy life, she says: “I want to show my son that whatever he chooses to do, it can be done.”

Reproduced with permission of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, N.J.
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Catching Up With the CLC

New Jersey Nursing Scholars, alumni and supporters have enjoyed two Collaborative Learning Community (CLC) events already in 2013, with a third coming up later this month.

The CLC meeting on Feb. 8, 2013, at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focused on interprofessional education, practice and research, with a roster of guests that included three speakers from Johns Hopkins University—Elizabeth (Ibby) Tanner, PhD, RN, FNGNA; Laura Hanyok, MD; and Kathleen Becker DNP, ANP-BC—and Matthew McHugh, PhD, JD, MPH, RN, CRPN, from the University of Pennsylvania.

“We made a big effort to capture what’s going on in the moment,” said CLC Facilitator Diane Billings, EdD, RN, FAAN, “and because of the topic, we opened up the meeting to a broader segment of the academic and nursing communities. The scholars are in academic settings, but we thought the topic had merit for the practice side, too, and they contributed some great thoughts and ideas.”

On March 8, 2013, a CLC webinar focused on presenting yourself professionally, a topic that’s particularly relevant to doctoral scholars, Billings said. “The way you dress, giving an elevator speech, the way your business cards, biography and CV look—these are all elements that should create a strong image of success and confidence. The scholars are ready to hear this, and it’s something we have to keep front and center.”

The next CLC meeting will take place on April 12, 2013, at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with a leadership development theme. The keynote speaker will be Joanne Disch, PhD, RN, FAAN, clinical professor at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing and president of the American Academy of Nursing.

“Joanne is a leader’s leader, so it will be fantastic to have her with us,” said Billings. “Leadership is such a big push in nursing now—cultivating more leaders, having better transition planning—and it’s a particularly big push in New Jersey. Leadership development is an underlying theme of the CLC.”

Immediately following the CLC meeting, there will be a special event to celebrate the New Jersey Nursing Scholars in Cohort 1 who are completing PhD programs this spring.
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Did You Know…?

The New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) last month announced that Susan Bakewell-Sachs, PhD, RN, PNP-BC, who has served as program director since NJNI launched four years ago, is stepping down in June. Bakewell-Sachs, who also until recently was interim provost of The College of New Jersey, has accepted an appointment as dean of the School of Nursing and vice president for nursing affairs at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.
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Newsletter Issue 12: December 2012

In This Issue

Sharing Signs of Progress at the State House
Leader’s Column: Business and Nursing -Proudly Working Together
NJNI’s Annual Meeting: Leading the Way Toward a Lifetime of Quality Care
Mastering the Classroom: New MSNs Talk About Teaching
Did You Know…?

Sharing Signs of Progress at the State House

John Lumpkin, RWJF and Susan Bakewell-Sachs, NJNI testify before the NJ State Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens CommitteeNew Jersey legislators had praise and questions for the health, business and academic leaders who gathered at the State House in Trenton on Nov. 19 to provide an update on progress made so far by the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI)—a multi-year, multi-million-dollar project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Three-and-a-half years ago, representatives of RWJF and the Chamber Foundation announced the initiative at a hearing held by the same committee, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. NJNI focuses on lowering the state’s nurse faculty vacancy rate, currently a staggering 10.5 percent, in order to help avert a projected shortage of more than 23,000 nurses in New Jersey in less than two decades.

“In 2009, when the New Jersey Nursing Initiative first launched, it was an unprecedented experiment in addressing the nurse faculty shortage in one state,” said John R. Lumpkin, MD, MPH, senior vice president and director of the Health Care Group at RWJF. “Today, three-and-a-half years later, I am pleased to be able to report: We are making real progress.”

In that time, Lumpkin and other witnesses said, NJNI’s Faculty Preparation Program has supported 61 New Jersey Nursing Scholars who are pursuing (or have completed) master’s or doctoral degrees that qualify them for nurse faculty positions. NJNI developed the Nursing Academic Resource Center of New Jersey, an online tool for graduate-level nursing students, and supported the Nursing Centralized Application System, which streamlines the nursing school application process for prospective students and monitors the availability of slots in nursing programs. NJNI also launched, a website providing nurse faculty career information.

In addition, NJNI is taking a lead role in the New Jersey Action Coalition. It helps the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action implement recommendations from the Institute of Medicine’s landmark nursing report as part of a nationwide effort to transform nursing and health care by fully utilizing nurses and enhancing their skills and education.

Increasing Demands on Nurses

“The nursing shortage is real,” Sen. Joseph Vitale, the chair of the health committee, said to those assembled in the packed hearing room. NJNI’s efforts “are very important.”

Susan Bakewell-Sachs, PhD, RN, PNP-BC, program director of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative and interim provost of The College of New Jersey, also testified, pointing out NJNI’s role in supporting the Nursing Faculty Loan Redemption Program Act, which was signed into law in 2010. It provides student loan redemption in exchange for full-time employment in the state as a nurse faculty member. “We have made important progress toward addressing the nursing and nursing faculty shortage and we thank the Legislature, and in particular this committee, for your support in helping us avert a serious health care crisis,” Bakewell-Sachs said.

Sen. Barbara Buono pointed out that as the Affordable Care Act is implemented, the need for primary care physicians will increase. She asked if NJNI’s efforts would lead to more advanced practice nurses who could offset some of the demand for more primary care. “Nurse practitioners contribute exquisitely to closing that gap,” said Mary Ann Christopher, MSN, RN, FAAN, president and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York and chair of NJNI’s National Advisory Committee. Christopher served as the moderator for the hearing. From the outset, NJNI knew that “we needed not only faculty, we needed faculty who understand increasing demands on nurses,” she responded.

‘It Is a Privilege to Teach’

Several senators raised questions about nurse faculty salaries, and they were eager to hear the perspective of Colleen Manzetti, DNP, RN, CNE, CNLCP, an assistant professor at Monmouth University. Manzetti shared her experience as a beneficiary of the state’s Nursing Faculty Loan Redemption Program, which provides a maximum benefit of $50,000 over five years. “The passion for teaching that nurse faculty members bring to their jobs is really what drives us, not the bottom line,” Manzetti said, citing the salary disparity between nurses in academia and nurses in the health care industry. “There is a great sense of accomplishment that comes with knowing that we improve the lives of patients, even when we’re not at their bedside in the hospital, because we give so many nurses the tools of caring they need. It is a privilege to teach, but financially, it is a sacrifice.”

The committee also heard from two New Jersey Nursing Scholars: Maria Torchia LoGrippo, MSN, RN, a doctoral student at Seton Hall University, and Marlin Gross, MSN, RN, who completed his master’s degree this year and is now an assistant professor at Cumberland County College.

LoGrippo spoke movingly of how her scholarship allowed her to meet academic and family demands—including caring for her two young children and her mother, who recently lost a two-year battle with breast cancer—without the financial pressure to hold a nursing job at the same time. “I now know for sure that I would not have been able to combine work and school without support from the New Jersey Nursing Initiative,” LoGrippo said. “I am well on the way to becoming a tenured nursing professor and the kind of academic nurse leader our nation needs to fix our health care system. I expect to spend the next several decades preparing the next generation of nurses and nurse faculty, who in turn will work to meet the health care needs of people in this state.”

“We need more highly educated nurses to play leading roles in discussions and debates about health care reform,” Gross said. “We need them to provide more complex care to an aging, and more complex, population of patients and to provide critically needed research into ways to improve health care. And we need them to fill faculty vacancies so we can curb a looming nursing shortage and help ensure that all people in our state, and in our country, have access to a highly skilled nurse when and where they need one.”

What’s Next for New Jersey

“We congratulate everyone involved in this initiative,” said Sen. Jim Whelan. “It’s a remarkable hearing, because you haven’t asked us for anything yet. What else do you look for going forward?”

“We’re here really for the reason of thanking you for your support,” responded Christopher. Early on, “some people may have doubted us. We would like for you to be mindful of nursing items in the future. We would like for you to be guardians of our efforts and champions for our work.”

The nursing population is aging, with only 8 percent of New Jersey nurses younger than 30. The average age of the state’s nurses is 51, and the average age of nurse faculty is 55. “Half of the faculty are thinking about retirement,” Lumpkin said. “We’re trying to get ahead of the curve.”

A recent study projects that by 2030, there will be a shortage of 23,358 nurses in New Jersey, indicating that NJNI’s work and similar efforts are crucial to ensuring that enough nurses can be trained to meet future health care needs in the Garden State. NJNI has awarded $21.5 million to a group of institutions of higher education to support the New Jersey Nursing Scholars with full tuition and fees, a $50,000 annual stipend and a laptop computer. Last year, RWJF reauthorized NJNI through 2016, funding scholarships for 10 additional New Jersey Nursing Scholars to pursue PhDs.

“This year, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation celebrates its 40th anniversary,” Lumpkin said. “As we look back at the nearly $1.5 billion we’ve invested in New Jersey, nothing makes us prouder than our support of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative. We are transforming the nursing workforce to better serve New Jersey’s future health needs, and in doing so, we are creating a model worthy of broad replication across the nation.”

“We need to support this initiative—to enhance and elevate it,” Sen. Buono said. “This is a good start.”

Reproduced with permission of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, N.J.
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Leader’s Column: Business and Nursing -Proudly Working Together

Jeff Scheininger, NJ Chamber of Commerce ChairmanJeffrey Scheininger, chair of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and president of Flexline/U.S. Brass & Copper Corp.

Scheininger was among the leaders who spoke on behalf of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative at the state Senate health committee hearing on Nov. 19. The following is an excerpt from his testimony.

I am exceptionally proud of the Chamber’s role in hosting the New Jersey Nursing Initiative since its inception. The state’s business community has long understood that a shortage of nurses and nurse faculty has serious implications for the welfare of our employees as well as the costs of running our enterprises. That is why the Chamber remains committed to the New Jersey Nursing Initiative and the forward-thinking steps it is taking to avert a health care crisis in our state.

I can speak to the business community’s concerns not only as the Chamber’s chairman, but also as the president of Flexline, a small manufacturer of specialty hose products, located in Linden. Several years ago, I had the privilege of testifying before this committee when the initiative was launched, and I spoke then of the business community’s deep concern about health care costs and the desire to make sure that quality care is available to support the health, well-being and productivity of our employees. That concern hasn’t changed, nor the reality that our employees won’t get quality care without highly educated nurses.

My health insurance expenditures are the same today as they were in 2009—around 30 percent of pre-tax profits. That would be great news—except we have 25 percent fewer employees now than we did then. So, in fact, we have experienced a significant increase in our health insurance costs. Believe me when I say I want to be sure that money is well spent, and that my employees are well served. We could grow our business significantly if not for this cost pressure.

Additionally, the Affordable Care Act has important implications for the nursing workforce. Millions of newly insured patients will require more health care professionals to care for them, and much of that care will come from qualified nurses. The breadth of medical decisions made by nurses instead of physicians will increase, and that requires not just having enough nurses, but having great nurses. And New Jersey needs to ensure that there are enough great nursing faculty in place to make that happen.

Tens of thousands of business owners, like me, want to know that the health care system is up to the job. That our employees and their families will have quality care when they or a family member is sick, and that the care that is available will make them well and let them get back to their jobs. We know that just as we form the bedrock of our state’s economy, nurses form the bedrock of the health care system.

The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, its member companies and its coalition partners are proud to support the New Jersey Nursing Initiative, we are proud of the progress that’s been made, and we look forward to maintaining a strong alliance in the future.
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NJNI’s Annual Meeting: Leading the Way Toward a Lifetime of Quality Care

2012 Annual MeetingThink of the images that nursing programs use to promote themselves and the profession, urged Mathy Mezey, EdD, RN, FAAN, as she delivered the opening keynote address at the fourth annual meeting of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI). “Looking at websites, you’d think you were going to be a pediatric nurse.”

Her words resonated with the scholars, mentors and faculty who assembled from Nov. 28 to 30 at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, N.J. Reinforcing the meeting’s theme, “Leadership for a Lifetime: Shaping Gerontology Education and Policy in the Garden State,” she continued:

“From the minute we think about ourselves in nursing education, we see ourselves caring for the young. That’s not what nursing is today.”

Instead, older adults make up health care’s core business, said Mezey, professor emerita, senior research scientist and associate director of the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at the New York University College of Nursing. Yet, nursing programs generally don’t devote enough time to geriatrics, she said, creating an urgent educational need: “The emphasis should be where the majority of nurses will be working. You’re producing unsafe practitioners if they’re not prepared to care for older adults.”

‘You Have to Have the Science’

Mezey highlighted a number of broad efforts to elevate geriatrics—including Web-based clinical teaching modules, new models for advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) education and regulation,  geriatric summer institutes, and the Nurses Improving Care to Healthsystems Elders (NICHE) national initiative—but she also reminded the audience that faculty can effect change on their own.

“If you’re born today, you have an even chance of reaching your 100th birthday,” she said. And although many health care providers are gifted at caring for older adults, “it’s not just enough to have the art. You have to have the science.”

NJNI Program Director Susan Bakewell-Sachs , PhD, RN, PNP-BC, agreed wholeheartedly. A fundamental reason that NJNI exists, she said after Mezey’s address, is “the importance of science and transmitting that to our students. It’s about education informing practice and practice informing education.”

New Ideas for Older Adults

Attendees heard a second keynote address the following day, by Jennie Chin Hansen, MSN, RN, FAAN, the CEO of the American Geriatrics Society and recent past president of AARP. Additionally, Mezey and Hansen each moderated panel discussions that provided a range of perspectives on geriatrics. The meeting also included a Collaborative Learning Community session that focused on practical advice for new faculty who want to secure a tenure-track position at a research-intensive university.

“A lot of you come from acute-care settings, and one of the things I want you to think about is care that comes outside of institutions, because that applies to many older adults,” Hansen said during her keynote. She emphasized that a provision of the Affordable Care Act, the Independence at Home program, could have a significant, positive impact on geriatric care: “It’s really a much more dynamic way to deliver care to older adults, because you can respond to issues right away instead of waiting to schedule services elsewhere.”

“Acute care is an artificial environment, and it can be disorienting,” Hansen added. “We put people at such a disadvantage.”

‘A Tremendous Opportunity for Change’

As the meeting wound down following a panel discussion exploring topics such as end-of-life care and New Jersey’s Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) law, doctoral scholar Aleesa Mobley, MS, RN, APNC, reflected on the cumulative effect of all the ideas that had been shared. “I see this as a beautiful transformation in how we think about caring for the elderly,” she said. “There’s a way to be healthy until you eventually die.”

“We need your talent and brains to think about these issues,” Hansen said. “There’s a tremendous opportunity for change, and it’s helpful for you to look closely at best practices whenever you can.”

“The context we have, and the work before us, is daunting,” said Bakewell-Sachs, “but it’s enriched by what we’ve learned here during this meeting. We’ve got to find our voices, take our voices forward, and transform leadership.”
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Mastering the Classroom: New MSNs Talk About Teaching

This year, 20 New Jersey Nursing Scholars completed their master of science in nursing (MSN) programs. We recently caught up with four alumni who went right back to class—as faculty:

  • Nancy FloodNancy Flood, MSN, RN, an instructor at Monmouth University who teaches Health Research and Community Health
  • Marlin Gross, MSN, APN, NP-C, an assistant professor at Cumberland County College who teaches Concepts in Nursing Practice I and II (theory, lab and clinical) and Leadership and Management in Nursing Practice
  • Renee Kurz, MSN, FNP-BC, an instructor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey who teaches Capstone clinical in the accelerated BSN program; Primary Care of Adults and Gerontology clinical in the MSN program; and Adult Health I (didactic and clinical) in the BSN program
  • Shelby Pitts, MSN, RN, an instructor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey who teaches Pediatric and Obstetric clinicals in the accelerated BSN program.

What is the biggest surprise about your new classroom role?

Flood: The amount of prep work necessary to teach each class.

Marlin GrossGross: I’ve been surprised by the receptiveness of the senior faculty to a novice educator. The mentoring and collaboration I’m experiencing are some of the highlights of my time as a new faculty member.

Kurz: I find it surprising how the use of technology permits ongoing communication with students, but also ends up being 24 hours a day.

Pitts: I have taught clinical in the past for an LPN program, so I haven’t had many surprises with the accelerated BSN program.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far in your teaching job?

Flood: Creating innovative strategies to keep my students engaged.

Gross: I’m finding that my biggest challenge is motivating students and engaging them in active learning. Simply knowing the content doesn’t make you a good teacher.

Renee KurzKurz: My biggest challenge so far is securing clinical placements for graduate students. There are many students competing for few sites. This has caused some students to be delayed in starting clinical and to struggle to stay “caught up” the rest of the semester with both the paperwork and the clinical hour requirements.

Pitts: The students in my last pediatric group were not clinically strong and needed a lot of remediation on their assessment skills. I worked with the course coordinator and the lab coordinator to support those students who were weak in certain areas so that they would be able to meet the course objectives and gain professional confidence in their ability to provide exceptional nursing care.

What is your ultimate goal as a teacher, and what is your plan to achieve that goal?

Flood: I want to integrate nursing science and caring practices to provide my students with opportunities that connect classroom pedagogies with real clinical situations. To achieve that goal, I plan to continue teaching, work in a clinical setting, and pursue post-graduate education to practice in an advanced clinical capacity.

Gross: My ultimate goal as a teacher is to ensure that every student has the best educational experience possible, and I plan to accomplish that by keeping abreast of the latest information in health care and nursing education, as well as bringing my passion for and dedication to nursing education each time I enter the classroom. Also, I plan to pursue my doctorate and contribute to nursing research in areas of clinical practice and education.

Shelby PittsKurz: I want to become a full professor, and I’ve already taken several doctoral courses. I’ll resume my doctoral studies next fall in order to achieve this goal.

Pitts: My goal is to obtain my doctorate of nursing practice and continue to teach as clinical faculty. I was able to take a few doctorate-level courses during my master’s program, and I plan to continue next fall and complete my studies within two years.
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Did You Know…?

In 2011, the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) awarded four grants for Innovations in Clinical Education (ICE), based upon a demonstrated partnership between an accredited school of nursing and a practice organization utilizing one of the following three approaches: a Dedicated Education Unit (DEU), preceptor strategies, or clinical simulation to connect classroom and clinical learning.

Newsletter Issue 10: June 2012

In This Issue

NJNI Celebrates Second Cohort of Master’s Candidates’ Program Completion
Leader’s Column – A Collaborative Learning Community That Endures
NJNI Scholar Plans to ‘Pay it Forward’
We Teach Nursing NJ Launches
Did You Know…?

NJNI Celebrates Second Cohort of Master’s Candidates’ Program Completion

On April 20, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) held a graduation ceremony for 19 New Jersey Nursing Scholars who have completed the NJNI Collaborative Learning Community program and will soon be newly minted MSNs ready to join the nurse faculty workforce.

In addition to celebrating the graduation of the second cohort of New Jersey Nursing Scholars, the spring meeting featured Collaborative Learning Community sessions that informed the Scholars about important resources and concepts they can use to strengthen their teaching skills and help their students learn. The two featured speakers were Jean Giddens, PhD, RN, FAAN, a professor and executive dean at the College of Nursing, University of New Mexico and Claire Donaghy, PhD, CCRN, ACNP, BC, CNE, associate professor at the Department of Nursing at William Paterson University.

A “Neighborhood” for Learning
Giddens, who is an RWJF Executive Nurse Fellow, conducted a highly interactive session on a concept-based approach to nursing education. She discussed how that approach can be integrated into curricula and teaching: concept-based curricula are intended to help learners make cognitive connections rather than memorize facts.

Giddens is also the principal investigator of an Evaluating Innovations in Nursing Education (EIN) project, which is evaluating a teaching tool called The Neighborhood—an online, interactive program that uses a virtual community to teach nursing students to identify and diagnose health problems and provide appropriate patient care. Giddens developed the program herself, creating characters, developing their stories and medical histories, writing The Neighborhood newspaper and even filming vignettes featuring the characters. The goal is to give students a deeper level of understanding about the characters and their health issues, so they will relate better to patients. She described how The Neighborhood uses concept-based learning and how she uses it in her classroom. EIN is an RWJF program that supports evaluations of interventions that expand teaching capacity or promote faculty recruitment and retention in nursing schools.

Focusing on Quality and Safety

Later in the afternoon, Donaghy, who teaches both bachelor’s and master’s degree students, discussed integration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Quality and Safety Education for Nurses (QSEN) into a nursing curriculum. QSEN addresses a set of quality and safety competencies that nurses must master. Those competencies, identified by the Institute of Medicine in 2003, are: patient-centered care, teamwork and collaboration; evidence based practice; quality improvement; and safety and informatics. Donaghy explained how the QSEN competencies were integrated into the nursing curriculum at William Paterson University and why they are important to improving nursing education and the quality of care nurses provide.

19 New Graduates
The day culminated with a graduation ceremony for the 19 master’s degree candidates. Susan Bakewell-Sachs, PhD, RN, PNP-BC, program director for NJNI, gave closing remarks, congratulated the graduates and encouraged them to carry the lessons they have learned into their new roles as faculty. Bakewell-Sachs, Dana Egreczky, president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Maryjoan Ladden, PhD, RN, FAAN, senior program officer at RWJF, and Lynn Mertz, PhD, deputy program director for NJNI, presented the graduates with their certificates and special gold pins indicating that they are all now RWJF alumni.

“We are extremely proud of all of you,” said Bakewell-Sachs. “The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation have made a wise investment in you and your careers as nurse faculty and we look forward to seeing you achieve great things as you teach, inspire and lead the next generation of nurses.”

The 19 master’s degree candidates who have completed the NJNI Faculty Preparation Program are:

Jamie Bowman, BSN, RN, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Ruta Brazaitis, BSN, RN, William Paterson University
Christine Brewer, BSN, RN, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Catherine Carlton, BSN, RN, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Tammy Cooper, BSN, RN-BC, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
Diane Cukrow, BSN, RN, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Marjory Desulme, BSN, RN, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Caitlin Fett, BSN, RN, The College of New Jersey
Nancy Flood, BSN, RN, Monmouth University
Marlin Gross, BSN, RN, Richard Stockton University
Stephanie Henson, BSN, RN, Richard Stockton University
Karen Hoary, BSN, RN, Monmouth University
Renee Kurz, BSN, RN, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
Tony Malek, BSN, RN, CBN, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Alexander Manning, BSN, RN, The College of New Jersey
Nancy Mills, BSN, RN, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
Shelby Pitts, BSN, RN, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
Grace Qarmout, BSN, RN, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Laura Zakresy, BSN, RN, Kean University
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Leader’s Column – A Collaborative Learning Community That Endures

By Diane M. Billings, EdD, RN, FAAN, chancellor’s professor emerita at Indiana University’s School of Nursing in Indianapolis and facilitator of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative’s Collaborative Learning Community

In keeping with the mission of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) to reduce the faculty shortage in New Jersey, NJNI’s Faculty Preparation Program (FPP) has graduated its second cohort of MSN nurses. They have been prepared to assume faculty roles in schools of nursing. These Scholars will join the ranks of the Scholars from the previous cohort and the faculty and mentors who have participated in this program over the last two years and are now teaching in schools of nursing in New Jersey.

The goal of the FPP is to help Scholars meet educator competencies and blend these skills with clinical and research expertise. An integral component of the FPP is the Collaborative Learning Community (CLC), a network of all Scholars, their mentors, and the principal investigators and administrators of the grants that support the program. This community is developed and sustained through on-site as well as real-time connections made through web conferencing (Webinars). Social networks (Facebook) and professional networks (LinkedIn) provide vehicles for continuous communication and dissemination of information.

CLC meetings offer sessions aimed at developing nurse educator competencies to enrich the academic and experiential learning that occur in the Scholars’ academic programs. Key leaders in nursing education have been speakers on topics as wide ranging as innovations in teaching and learning, new models of clinical education, assessment and evaluation strategies, working with diverse learners and developing curricula for the future. A series of “career builder” Webinars helped Scholars develop and enhance their professional identities as nurse faculty.

The meetings of the CLC also complement the work of NJNI and the New Jersey Action Coalition. For example, CLC members have heard from national leaders about building capacity in learning innovations such as simulations; new models of clinical education such as a dedicated education unit; and strategies such as dual admission to promote state goals to increase the number of BSN and PhD prepared nurses.

The content of the CLC meetings is also guided by reports from national groups such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-supported Institute of Medicine’s The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. The CLC participants have had the opportunity to hear firsthand from Susan B. Hassmiller, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s senior adviser for nursing, about this report and its recommendations, and have integrated this work into the content of meetings and Webinars.

Upon graduation, the Scholars are ready to assume faculty positions. As CLC participants, each has developed a competitive resume/curriculum vitae and a portfolio documenting his or her attainment of educator competencies.  Several Scholars have had opportunities to publish their work in scholarly nursing journals, present at local, state and national meetings, and disseminate their work through poster presentations. Scholars also have attended state and national educator meetings, met with leaders in the field and become socialized to the role of a nurse educator.

Changes in higher education, redesigned health care systems, increasing use of technology in both higher education and health care, and an increasingly diverse body of student nurses entering nursing programs at all levels will continue to offer challenges to nurse educators.  The Scholars who have participated in NJNI’s Faculty Preparation Program are ready to respond to and provide leadership to help meet these challenges.
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NJNI Scholar Plans to ‘Pay it Forward’

Maria Torchia LoGripoAfter she graduates, New Jersey Nursing Scholar Maria Torchia LoGrippo plans to become a nursing professor so she can help build the pipeline of nurses and research ways to narrow health disparities.

Three years ago, Maria Torchia LoGrippo got the news of a lifetime: She had been selected to receive a prestigious scholarship that put her on course to achieving her professional dreams.

But it wasn’t until later that she realized the deeper value of the scholarship, which is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI). In addition to a full tuition waiver in the doctoral nursing program at Seton Hall University, a stipend of $50,000 a year, and a new laptop computer, LoGrippo discovered later that she would also be learning from the crème de la crème of academic nursing.

When LoGrippo—a member of NJNI’s Faculty Preparation Program’s inaugural cohort in 2009—attended the first program conference that fall, she was surprised, and delighted, to see that Patricia Benner, PhD, RN, FAAN, a noted nursing educator and author of From Novice to Expert: Excellence and Power in Nursing Practice, would be giving the keynote address.

“I was truly honored and humbled when I received the scholarship,” said LoGrippo, MSN, RN. “But when I went to our first conference and found out such a highly acclaimed nurse leader would be speaking to us, I thought , ‘Wow. This is such an amazing opportunity I was given. I really have to live up to it. I really have an enormous responsibility to give back to the profession.’”

Benner was not the only national nurse leader to address the 29 members of that inaugural NJNI cohort, and her speech hasn’t been the only highlight of the program.

Over the past two years, LoGrippo has had the opportunity to present testimony on the nurse faculty shortage to members of the New Jersey State Legislature; present a “poster” on the importance of teaching students the business of health care at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s (AACN) 2012 Faculty Practice Pre-Conference in San Antonio, Texas; and attend a health policy conference and educate members of Congress in Washington, D.C., on March 21, 2010—the same day that the health  care reform bill was enacted. “It was a great opportunity,” she said. “I felt very fortunate to be in our nation’s capital at such an important time.”

These opportunities were made possible by RWJF, which has joined the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation to support NJNI, a multi-year, $30 million project working to transform nursing education in the state. Its goal is to ensure that New Jersey has the well prepared, diverse nurse faculty it needs to educate nurses to meet the demand for health and health care in the 21st century.

One key facet of the initiative is NJNI’s Faculty Preparation Program, which is helping 61 New Jersey Nursing Scholars advance their education in preparation for nurse faculty positions.

Many, like LoGrippo, would not have been able to pursue advanced degrees had it not been for the program’s support. Before enrolling in the program, LoGrippo was a full-time faculty associate at the College of Nursing at Seton Hall University and had been encouraged by the school’s dean and other faculty members to earn her doctorate. A PhD, she was told, would allow her to teach at a higher level and secure funding for her research priorities.

But she could not give up her job to advance her education because her family relied on her income to make ends meet. Attending school on nights and weekends was also not on option; she needed to tend to her two young children during those hours.

The scholarship, however, enabled her to give up her job and go to school on a full-time basis and continue to support her family. It proved invaluable a year into the program, when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and LoGrippo assumed responsibility for her care while her husband ran for local office.

“If I had been trying to do this and go to school and work at the same time, I would have had to drop out,” she said. “I could not have done this without the support of my colleagues and this program.”

Researching Ways Nurses Can Narrow Health Disparities
As a professor, LoGrippo will be working to improve health care in two key ways. First, by training the next generation of nurses and nurse educators, she will help alleviate a looming nurse shortage. And second, by conducting research into ways nurses can improve access to care, she hopes to narrow health disparities based on race and class.

LoGrippo is currently researching levels of trust between pregnant women and certified nurse-midwives. She hopes to gather evidence on how trusting relationships between certified nurse-midwives and their patients lead to positive outcomes for mothers and their babies.

That, she said, could be a boon to the millions of women who live in poverty and who are more likely to have pre-term, low birthweight babies. “Nurse-midwives have access to women who are living in poor communities,” she explained. “If nurse-midwives are highly trusted, then the expectant mothers they care for may experience lower levels of prenatal stress and have better outcomes.”

In addition to her studies and her research, the NJNI Faculty Preparation Program ensures that LoGrippo is actively engaged in activities that advance her role in teaching and scholarship.  To that end, she helped found an organization to support doctoral nursing students at Seton Hall University. And she participated in a teaching practicum that helped teach an introductory online course for doctoral students on the philosophy of science at Rutgers University.

Now, she’s writing her dissertation proposal. She plans to graduate next year and launch the next phase of her career as a faculty member at a nursing school in New Jersey.

The scholarship was “a dream come true,” she told New Jersey legislators in 2009. It allowed her to advance her education, continue to support her family, better meet her caregiving responsibilities and position herself to get the job of her dreams.

It’s true on a deeper level as well. Becoming a nurse is a dream she had as a little girl, LoGrippo says, and it’s one shared by her mother, who had worked for decades as a secretary in the office of an obstetrician-gynecologist. “My mother never managed to realize her own dream to become a nurse, because of her limited education and finances. But given this amazing opportunity from the RWJF, I will be able to achieve my goal to become a nursing professor.”
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We Teach Nursing NJ Launches

What does being a member of the faculty at a school of nursing involve? What are the requirements to become a nurse faculty member in the Garden State? What are the benefits to this career path? How great is the need for nurse faculty?

New Jersey nurses considering this career option now have a new resource—the first of its kind in the state—to help them understand more about a career as a nurse faculty member. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) this month launched “,” a website providing important resources and information about what a career as nurse faculty involves and the pathway to that career.

“The job market may not look bright in some industries, but that’s not the case for nurse faculty,” said Susan Bakewell-Sachs, PhD, RN, PNP-BC, program director for NJNI and interim provost of The College of New Jersey. “We have a tremendous long-term need for nurse faculty in New Jersey, and we hope this new website, ‘,’ will become a resource for all practicing and prospective nurses considering new careers.”

New Jersey has a staggering 10.5 percent vacancy rate for nurse faculty. If those positions are not filled, nursing schools may have to turn away prospective nursing students, which would exacerbate the shortage of nurses just as the state’s health care needs are growing. That shortage could have a significant negative effect on the health and health care of New Jersey. Many faculty at New Jersey nursing schools are approaching retirement, and there are not enough people in the pipeline to fill their positions, in part because few practicing nurses have the qualifications necessary to teach.  One hurdle is the education requirement— candidates for nurse faculty in New Jersey must hold at least a master’s degree.

“Highly qualified, well-prepared nurses are essential to our rapidly changing health care system. There’s no question that nurses with bachelor degrees or higher are in greater demand. NJNI is addressing the challenges many face in pursuing advanced degrees, and is encouraging others to consider the faculty path,” said Bakewell-Sachs.” provides information on what to expect as a nurse faculty member, as well as the education and skills necessary to pursue that career path. It also includes profiles of current nurse faculty and a list of nursing programs in each county in the state.
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Did You Know…?

NJNI’s blog, News & Notes on Nursing in NJ, is your source for nursing news in the state! Not only does the blog feature a weekly roundup of the top NJ nursing stories, we regularly feature new opportunities and events you won’t want to miss, and often publish guest posts from nursing leaders in the state. Have something you’d like to share on the blog?
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Newsletter Issue 9: December 2011

In This Issue

NJ’s Action Coalition: A Year of Progress
Leader’s Column – Celebrating NJ’s Leaders
Leading Nurse Researcher Works to Quantify the Looming Nurse Shortage
A Fond Farewell: Mary Ann Christopher
Scholars, Leaders & IOM Recommendations Shine at NJNI’s Annual Meeting
Did You Know?

NJ’s Action Coalition: A Year of Progress

Following Nightingale LanternNurses in boardrooms, at the state legislature informing lawmakers, nurse residencies…
Thanks to a dedicated network of volunteers powering New Jersey’s Action Coalition, the Garden State is moving at a rapid pace to advance those and other recommendations from the Institute of Medicine’s landmark Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health report.

In its first year, the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action in New Jersey has made tremendous progress. On December 2, Action Coalition members joined other nursing, health, public policy, education and business leaders at the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) to discuss first year accomplishments and future goals. The discussion was guided by the Action Coalition’s three co-leads: Edna Cadmus, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, clinical professor and director, DNP Program-Leadership Track of Rutgers University College of Nursing; Mary Ann Christopher, MSN, RN, FAAN, president of the Visiting Nurse Health Group and chair of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative’s (NJNI’s) National Advisory Committee (NAC); and David Knowlton, president of New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. The meeting also provided the opportunity to honor seven non-nurse leaders for their support and guidance throughout the year.

During the meeting, Christopher provided an overview of what other state Action Coalitions are accomplishing and said that New Jersey is “well-positioned to lead.” The New Jersey Action Coalition is working to advance four pillars of the report: practice, education, leadership and data. It has set up a work group to address each pillar.

“I sit here a little bit shocked to hear what you have accomplished in such a short amount of time. You are doing things that are resonating with people,” Knowlton said.

Transforming Practice
Co-chairs of the practice work group, Patricia Barnett, JD, RN, of the New Jersey State Nurses Association and Betty Sheridan, MA, RN, of South Jersey Healthcare, discussed the advances made in the first year. They include securing support from Senator Joe Vitale and Assemblywoman Nancy Muñoz to advance legislation and regulations that support nurses working at all levels and help ensure that they can practice to the full extent of their training and education.

“One of our goals is to have staff nurses recognize their value and have that recognized throughout the state,” Sheridan said. “We want to reach out to all staff, not just APNs (Advance Practice Nurses). Using nurses to the full extent of their education will save health care dollars.”

Transforming Education
Discussing the work of the Action Coalition, Deanna Sperling, MAS, RN, CNA, BC, president of the Organization of Nurse Executives of New Jersey and co-chair of the education work group, said “this has been a great opportunity for academe and practice to come together and has been a long time coming in our state.” Sperling and fellow co-chairSusan Salmond, EdD, RN, CNE, CTN, of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey discussed the education work group’s work to address the 80/20 academic progression goal as well as the effort to establish a pilot nurse residency program in the state. In its first year, the education work group has defined core competencies and a model for a 12-month residency program. Its immediate next steps include adapting the competencies into a formal curriculum and seeking funding sources to move the program forward.

Transforming Leadership
“We recognize that nurses don’t necessarily know what the roles and responsibilities of board members are, so we are developing an initiative to address that,” said Aline Holmes, MSN, RN, APNC, of NJHA and co-chair of theleadership work group. Holmes was describing one of the next steps in the work group’s efforts:  providing the tools nurses need to take seats on boards. Together with co-chair Mary Wachter, MS, of the Visiting Nurse Association Health Group, Holmes described first-year successes; they include securing appointments of a number of nurses to boards.  They also talked about goals for 2012.

The leadership work group has created a database of nurses in the state who have expressed an interest in taking on leadership roles and serving on boards. The database is maintained by NJHA. The group has also created a companion leadership opportunity list of organizations and agencies that will need board members; in coming months, they will identify nurse leaders who can step into these roles as vacancies arise.

The work group is also generating awareness of the Nurse Leaders in the Boardroom resource, produced by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Center to Champion Nursing in America.

“They’re not just generating lists, they’re getting people appointed to boards. This is incredibly important, because you actually have people on the inside who can make change,” Knowlton said.

Workforce Data
In 2011, the workforce data work group, headed by Kevin O’Brien of Partners in Care and Deborah Zastocki, DNP, RN, of Chilton Hospital, spearheaded a national scan to look at how other states handle health care workforce data collection and storage, looking at 35 state data center models.

Work group members hope to coordinate with New Jersey’s data collection repositories to develop a model that objectively presents how the health care workforce is organized and the costs associated with its current structure. The goal is to aggregate data in meaningful ways so it is possible to look at the business case for the delivery of care today, as that data can inform efforts to re-structure the nursing workforce.  “We need to change the funding paradigm,” said O’Brien. “We need to know what [service] is being delivered and what is not of value. A lot of this is tied to how we’ve organized the workforce.”
Champions Following Nightingale’s Lead
At the meeting, seven individuals and organizations were honored for contributing to the New Jersey Action Coalition and presented with replicas of the legendary lantern that Florence Nightingale used in her transformative work in Turkey a century ago during the Crimean War.

The lanterns featured a quote from Nightingale, signifying the importance of their contribution:
“May we hope that leaders will arise who have been personally experienced in the hard, practical work, the difficulties and joys of organizing nursing reforms, and who will lead far beyond anything we have done.”

The 2011 New Jersey Action Coalition champions are:
• U.S. Representative Rush Holt for Transforming Practice
• Arnold Speert, former President of William Paterson University and NJNI NAC Member for Transforming Education
• The Governor’s Appointments Office for Transforming Leadership
• Kevin O’Brien, president of Partners in Care, for Workforce Data
• New Jersey Hospital Association, represented by Betsy Ryan, president
• Assemblywoman Nancy Muñoz, nurse legislator
• Horizon Health Innovations, represented by Carl Rathjen and Mary Aikins, RN

To learn more about the work of the New Jersey Action Coalition, or to find out how to join a work group, visit
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Leader’s Column – Celebrating NJ’s Leaders

Susan Bakewell-SachsBy Susan Bakewell-Sachs, PhD, RN, PNP-BC, New Jersey Nursing Initiative Program Director and Interim Provost, The College of New Jersey

2011 has been a remarkable year for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI). Through our vast network of partnerships we have achieved many successes, and are working hard to address and end the nurse faculty shortage.

In 2011, we have greatly expanded the scope and reach of the New Jersey Academic Resource Center, servicing hundreds of students and faculty. We have graduated our first cohort of RWJF New Jersey Nursing Scholars, many of whom are now nurse faculty in the state. We have expanded our presence online through our blog, state resource map, and Facebook page to reach new audiences and continue providing timely news and information. And through our work with the New Jersey Action Coalition, we have started to bring the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Future of Nursing report recommendations to life.

None of this would be possible without the knowledge, guidance and dedication of leaders in business, health, public policy and academe who have become an integral part of the NJNI team. Through their insight, passion and commitment, we have made tremendous progress toward making New Jersey a model for the nation in building a well-prepared, adequate nursing workforce to meet future needs.

We are successful in part because we have always drawn from the very best the state has to offer, going beyond the realm of nursing to make the nurse faculty shortage relevant and important  to the broader public. From the statewide Health Care Workforce Council to the New Jersey Action Coalition, our work is stronger because of the diversity of those leading the way.

That is why we would like to take this time to give special recognition to someone who has been an essential part of NJNI leadership since the Initiative launched in May 2009: Mary Ann Christopher.

As chair of our National Advisory Committee (NAC), she has provided a vision and the framework for NJNI’s work. Christopher also took a principal role in advancing the IOM report’s goals in the state by serving as co-lead of the New Jersey Action Coalition. Her work included supporting the efforts of the leadership work group. Christopher has also presented often to groups on behalf of the Action Coalition as well as on the IOM report in general.

Beginning in January 2012, Christopher will be moving on from her work with the Visiting Nurse Health Group to become the next leader of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York as its president and chief executive officer. This is a bittersweet moment for NJNI, and we offer profound thanks to one of our most outstanding leaders.  We recognize how much we have benefited from her wise and thoughtful counsel, and wish her the best.  We count ourselves lucky that she will not be a stranger to New Jersey and are grateful that she will continue serving as chair of the NJNI NAC.

We also recognize those who are giving their time and talent to help make New Jersey a state where every patient can know that “a nurse will be there for you.” And we welcome the next generation of leaders, our New Jersey Nursing Scholars alumni and those just now completing their studies. Working together, pooling the resources of talent statewide, we will be able to achieve our goal.
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Leading Nurse Researcher Works to Quantify the Looming Nurse Shortage

Jeannie CimiottiJeannie CimiottiJeannie CimiottiSecond-career nurse is helping to build a national data set to predict the future supply of and demand for nurses as the population ages.

You might say that Jeannie Cimiotti—a nationally renowned nurse scholar and the new head of a New Jersey nursing workforce data center—fell into her profession by accident.

One morning a couple of decades ago, she happened to see a little girl run into a busy street and get hit by a car. A teacher of visual and performing arts at the time, Cimiotti felt helpless as she waited alongside the girl, who was a student of hers, for the ambulance to arrive. When it did, she stood in awe of the emergency medical technicians who came to the rescue.

The next day she applied to become a paramedic, taking the first step in a long and arduous—but extremely rewarding—process of switching careers to nursing.

At first, Cimiotti, DNSc, MS, MFA, kept her day job as an art teacher in Jersey City, N.J., and worked nights and weekends as a student paramedic. One day, while working in a coronary care unit, she was asked to monitor an electro-cardiogram machine. When she noticed some irregularities, she calmly reported the situation to the supervising nurse, who responded with some unexpected advice. “You should consider nursing,” she told Cimiotti. “Other students come in here and see something odd and go all crazy. But you can take it in and not overreact.”

And that is what Cimiotti did. She went back to undergraduate school and earned her second bachelor’s degree in 1997, when she was in her mid-30s. Nursing may not have been her first professional love, but it has since become her most deep and lasting one.

In the years since, she has risen quickly through the ranks of the profession. She has worked as a pediatric nurse and nurse educator, has earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in nursing, and has won international acclaim for research she helped conduct on the effects of nursing workforce environments on health outcomes in the U.S. and abroad.

Cimiotti now brings her rich background in nursing to the New Jersey Collaborating Center for Nursing, an organization funded by the state of New Jersey and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) that gathers and analyzes data about the state’s nursing workforce to guide policy decisions and spark innovation in nursing education, practice and research. Cimiotti succeeded Geri Dickson, PhD, RN, who retired from the position earlier this year.

The center complements the work of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI), a multi-year, multi- million dollar project of RWJF and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation that is working to ensure that New Jersey has the well prepared, diverse nurse faculty it needs to educate nurses to meet the demand for health and health care in the 21st century.

“Working together I’m quite certain we can make sure that New Jersey has nurses of the highest quality and that we’ll have enough of them to meet patient needs,” Cimiotti said.

The state is in many ways making progress toward the shared goal of ensuring that there are enough nurses in New Jersey to meet future demands. It is home to more hospitals that have achieved Magnet-level status—meaning they have been recognized for healthy working environments for nurses, which have been shown to improve patient outcomes—than any other state. And it is one of only 18 states that have enacted legislation requiring hospitals to publicly report nurse staffing ratios.

Looming Nurse Shortage
But like the rest of the nation, New Jersey has a long way to go to curb a looming nursing shortage that threatens to undermine the quality of patient care. The population is living longer, but sicker, and more nurses will be needed to meet increasing, and increasingly complex, patient needs. The nursing workforce, meanwhile, is graying along with the rest of the population, and nurses are expected to retire en masse in the not-too-distant future.

The recession has mitigated the effects of the shortage for the time being. Nurses are putting off retirement or adding hours to compensate for income lost during the recession. But as the economy recovers, more nurses will retire or cut their hours, and there aren’t enough new nurses to follow in their footsteps.

“When this economy improves we’re going to be in a bad situation,” Cimiotti said. “Right now hospitals aren’t hiring a lot of nurses because those who should have retired aren’t, or they are coming back to the workforce. But when the economy improves and nurses bail out, we’ll be in a really serious situation nationwide.”

To address the shortage before it occurs, Cimiotti and colleagues from other states are working to develop a minimum data set to more accurately predict the supply of and demand for nurses in New Jersey and across the nation. She is also working to boost the number of Magnet-accredited hospitals in New Jersey; study working conditions for nurses in New Jersey hospitals; and investigate the number of hospitals in New Jersey that require nurses to have a bachelor’s degree.

In addition, she will oversee an annual educational capacity survey to assess student enrollment in New Jersey nursing schools, which will help NJNI in its mission to ensure that there are enough nursing school faculty to prepare the next generation of New Jersey nurses.

“I would love to see New Jersey noted for its nurses and its quality of care,” she said “I want other states to look at us and say, ‘Wow! Look at what New Jersey has done.’”

Nearly two decades after she left the public school classroom in Jersey City, Cimiotti is now in a place where she can help make that dream a reality. “I have never felt so well positioned in my life to really make a difference in patient care,” she said. “I think being the executive director of this center allows me to work side by side with administrators from health care facilities and stakeholders across the state. It’s almost like a researcher’s dream come true.”
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A Fond Farewell: Mary Ann Christopher

State Senator Joe Vitale presents Mary Ann Christopher a proclamation

Accolades, tributes and official proclamations poured in from leaders all across the state in recognition of the tremendous contribution Mary Ann Christopher has made to nursing in New Jersey throughout her career.

Christopher was feted at the New Jersey Action Coalition’s December 2 meeting. She will be stepping down from her position as Action Coalition co-lead in December, as she prepares for her new role as president and chief executive officer of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY), effective January 2012.

In a proclamation, Governor Chris Christie noted that Christopher’s “energetic leadership and dedication to patient advocacy” have furthered the nursing profession. “Your efforts have had a profound and positive impact on the state of New Jersey. Thank you for a job well done,” he said.

Unable to attend the event himself, U.S. Congressman Rush Holt sent a representative from his district office, Alex Koerte, with a special message for Christopher. He offered his “deepest appreciation” for all her work and expressed a desire to continue working together to advance the role of nursing.

A longtime champion of Christopher’s nursing and patient advocacy work, State Senator Joe Vitale presented a proclamation in recognition of her legacy and contributions to residents of the garden state. Quoting Henry Adams who said “a teacher affects eternity:  he can never tell where his influence stops,” Vitale said “and so it is with nurses, and so it is with Mary Ann Christopher.”

Christopher said her decision to accept the VNSNY position was a difficult one, in large part because of her tremendous affection for New Jersey. “I love what I do every day in New Jersey. It has been a joy for me. It’s been a joy for me because of you. It has been a privilege.”

VNSNY is the nation’s largest not-for-profit home health care organization providing a wide range of services to New Yorkers of all ages and helping meet health care needs throughout the five boroughs of New York, and in Westchester and Nassau counties. Prior to her appointment with VNSNY, Christopher was president and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Association Of Central Jersey, serving more than 127,000 people annually throughout New Jersey.

Mary Wachter, co-chair for the Action Coalition’s leadership group, will become the new Action Coalition co-lead, along with Dave Knowlton and Edna Cadmus. Christopher will remain in her role as chair of the National Advisory Committee for NJNI.
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Scholars, Leaders & IOM Recommendations Shine at NJNI’s Annual Meeting

NJNI 3rd Annual Meeting Scholars“There’s a lot on New Jersey’s shoulders,” Susan Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) senior adviser for nursing, said at the New Jersey Nursing Initiative’s (NJNI’s) third annual meeting. “But I can feel it here in this room: we can do it… When the history books come out I want this generation to be known for solutions, and for New Jersey to have taken the lead.”

Only months after the first class of New Jersey Nursing Scholarsgraduated from the program, ten new PhD students were officially welcomed into the NJNI family. The new cohort got an introduction to the program at the NJNI third annual meeting, held October 20-21 in Princeton, New Jersey.

They joined current scholars, representatives from NJNI’s first graduating class, mentors and nurse faculty for two days of networking and information sessions to acclimate them to the program and their futures as nurse faculty.

“The opportunities that have come with [being a New Jersey Nursing Scholar], the networking opportunities – especially this conference every year – the people that you meet, has been extraordinary,” said Scholar Kristi Stinson, MSN, RN, APN-C, who is attending Seton Hall University.

The Future of Nursing Education
The meeting focused on education progression, which has garnered increasing attention since the release of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. The report calls for more nurses to earn bachelor’s degrees and more advanced degrees, with a goal to double the number of nurses with doctorates by 2020. NJNI is helping to advance that work.

There are emerging models in nursing education that show great promise in meeting these recommendations, said keynote speaker Vickie Niederhauser, PhD, RN, dean of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville School of Nursing and an alumna of the RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows program. But one plan doesn’t work for everybody, she cautioned, and each state should tailor a plan to its needs. “There’s more than one way to get where we’re going.”

When she was the associate dean of the University of Hawaii’s School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene, Niederhauser helped to change Hawaii’s education system to make it easier for nurses to pursue higher degrees. At the time, the only way for some nurses to get a baccalaureate degree was the move to another island, which wasn’t feasible for many families. Niederhauser and her colleagues adapted a consortium model used in Oregon to create a partnership among Hawaii schools of nursing to offer a state-wide unified baccalaureate curriculum and distance learning opportunities.

“Changes in the health care system are both uprooting and uplifting,” she said. “The key to success is being inspired.”

New Jersey’s Role
“We have called the Future of Nursing report a blueprint, a game changer, a call to action,” said NJNI Program Director Susan Bakewell-Sachs, PhD, RN, PNP-BC. “It’s all of those things. It gives us the weight to carry forward.”

Forty-seven percent of New Jersey nurses are at least baccalaureate prepared, but only 9 percent have master’s degrees and less than one percent have doctorate degrees. In a state with 111,000 registered nurses, we’re “not achieving adequate education progression,” Bakewell-Sachs said. New Jersey schools of nursing struggle with the same capacity issues as institutions in other states, turning away qualified applicants because there is a shortage of doctoral-prepared faculty. As record numbers of nurses and nurse faculty near retirement, the impending nursing shortage threatens to leave the state unprepared to meet the health care needs of its citizens.

But the NJNI Faculty Preparation Program has already made progress in changing the state’s prognosis. Last spring, the first cohort of 18 New Jersey Nursing Scholars graduated with master’s degrees, and many began careers as nurse faculty in the state this fall. The Faculty Preparation Program will produce at least 61 new nurse faculty committed to working in the state.

“We have to seize the moment,” Bakewell-Sachs said. “In my career I’ve never seen a greater moment in time, a greater spotlight on us.”

The Scholars’ Role
“People try to sell us change when we’re hungry for transformation,” Heather Andersen, RN, MN, EdD, told the Scholars. Andersen is the founder of Human Source, a management consulting company that works with leaders in business, government and higher education to facilitate transformation within their organizations. “One of the best parts of the [Future of Nursing] report is that it makes business sense.”

Andersen’s motivational remarks included suggestions for ways the Scholars can help advance the recommendations in the IOM report. She also helped facilitate small group discussions in which the Scholars discussed how New Jersey could meet its nursing education needs and how they could help.

“I’m going to leave you with one message,” Hassmiller told the Scholars in closing. “Hang around with people who are solution-makers… Put New Jersey on the map. Take the lead.”
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Did You Know?

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) is continuing to expand its social media presence, and is proud to unveil its new Facebook page, launched in December. As with the NJNI website and blog, the Facebook page will provide an additional platform for news, events, information and online connections.
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Newsletter Issue 8: September 2011

In This Issue

Back to School: From the Clinic to the Classroom
Leader’s Column – Education Update
Putting Their Dreams on a Fast Track: Two New Jersey Nursing Scholars Reach Professional Goals
Building a Stronger Nursing Workforce: The Case for Nurse Residency in NJ
All the News That’s Fit to Blog
New Publication from RWJF Focuses on IOM’s Recommendations for Nurses’ Educational Progression
Did You Know…?

Back to School: From the Clinic to the Classroom

Laptop? Check. Textbooks? Check. B.S.N.? M.S.N.? Ph.D.? In progress.
This fall, thousands of nurses in New Jersey are headed back to school. If last year is any indication, more than half will be enrolled in an R.N. to B.S.N. program, and more than 45 percent will be enrolled in a graduate program. Last year, 85 nursing students began pursuing a Ph.D. or D.N.P.

“I would like to extend a warm welcome to all nurses returning to academia,” said Susan Bakewell-Sachs, Ph.D., R.N., P.N.P.-B.C., interim provost of The College of New Jersey and New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) program director. “Their commitment to continuing education is exactly what is needed in New Jersey, to meet the demands for registered nurses with baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees”

The state’s nurse faculty shortage is alarming, Bakewell-Sachs said. Many faculty members at New Jersey nursing schools are approaching retirement, and there are not enough people in the pipeline to fill their positions.

Filling nurse faculty positions is complicated by the fact that relatively few practicing nurses have the qualifications to teach. All nurse faculty in New Jersey must hold at least a master’s degree.

“We have seen some progress, but we are still a long way from where we need to be. Together with partners across the state, we’re working to make sure our nurses will be better prepared, our patients better attended and our health care system stronger,” Bakewell-Sachs added.

A Strong Push for Education
Last year the Institute of Medicine released a groundbreaking report—The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health—that provided recommendations for the nursing profession, including strengthening nurse education and training.

Under the guidance of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), regional Action Coalitions are being established across the country to implement the report’s recommendations. NJNI is a partner in this effort in New Jersey, and serves as the coordinating office for the New Jersey Action Coalition, an advocacy organization led by a team of recognized and highly-respected leaders in health and health care. Of the Coalition’s four volunteer-led work groups, one is tasked with developing and implementing plans to advance and strengthen nurse education. It is doing so by exploring innovative models, such as a state-wide nurse residency pilot program. [See “Building a Stronger Nursing Workforce: The Case for Nurse Residency in NJ” in this issue of the newsletter.]

The work of the New Jersey Action Coalition builds upon the foundational work of NJNI to transform nursing education in the state. Since its launch in 2009, NJNI has been helping bridge the divide between nursing academia and practice, and has been successful in broadening the conversation and bringing new partners to the table, including business and philanthropy.

Getting to the Head of the Class
Through its Faculty Preparation Program, NJNI is attracting younger nurses to faculty roles and developing new curriculum models to enhance existing nurse education programs. In August, NJNI celebrated a milestone with the graduation of 18 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Jersey Nursing Scholars, the first from the program to graduate. Many of these new graduates will begin their careers as nurse faculty, teaching in New Jersey nursing schools this fall.

For those still enrolled in graduate programs, the Nursing Academic Resource Center of New Jersey, has become an integral part of their educational development. It is supported by the Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future program, a partnership of the Northwest Health Foundation and RWJF, and seven local funders, led by the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, is housed within NJNI. It is a two-year pilot program that is providing support to graduate nursing students in scholarly writing at 12 institutions in the state. In its first year, it has become a tremendous resource for students, helping more than 800 receive the support they need to succeed in their careers. Faculty have benefited from the program also as they have appreciated having a tool to offer their students. To date, more than 50 faculty have been trained and are integrating the program into their courses.

“We have made great strides in making education more accessible to nurses and prospective nurses in New Jersey, graduating our first class of New Jersey Nursing Scholars who will go on to teach and simplifying the application process. These achievements are significant, and as their outcomes are felt across the state, our health care system and our citizens’ health will benefit,” said Bakewell-Sachs.

“Our successes are possible because of our exceptional partners. Business, philanthropic and civic leaders have all come to the table as real collaborators, providing invaluable insight and support. As the school year begins anew, we recommit to solving the challenges before us and making New Jersey a model for the country in nurse education,” she added.
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Leader’s Column – Education Update

By Edna Cadmus, Ph.D., R.N., N.E.A.-B.C., clinical professor and director, D.N.P. Program-Leadership Track of Rutgers University College of Nursing  and co-lead for the New Jersey Action Coalition

The New Jersey Action Coalition continues to work on the recommendations from the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) nursing report under the four pillars ofscope of practice; education; leadership; and workforce data. Each working group addressing one of the pillars is guided by co-chairs who are working to ensure that we address the key recommendations from the report. I want to share with you the progress being made in the education work group along with the timelines.

Residency Program
The education pillar is led by Susan Salmond, Ed.D., R.N., C.N.E., C.T.N., dean of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – School of Nursing and Deanna Sperling, M.A.S., R.N., C.N.A., B.C., vice president of patient care services at Kimball Medical Center.  They have their sights set on having draft models crafted for two residency programs by the end of September. These programs include a transition into practice residency program for new nurses across all settings and an Advanced Practice Nurse primary care transitions model.

Subcommittees are defining the competencies needed and creating the business plans for the models.  The group is using the National Council of State Board of Nursing, Transitions to Practice Framework for new nurses, along with other documents such as the Hartford Institute geriatric competencies, to help inform their work. To read more on the Transitions to Practice Framework, go to

We will vet these models with key stakeholders in service and academia to ensure we have it right to meet future demands.  We plan to submit them to the Health Resources and Services Administration for funding opportunities and/or other key funders in the fall.

Academic Progression
It is time to tackle the IOM recommendation: 80 percent B.S.N. in 2020 in New Jersey.

We are far from this goal at present: New Jersey stands at approximately 47 percent baccalaureate preparation. We can and will do better.

In October during the New Jersey Nursing Initiative’s annual meeting we will begin a more in depth dialogue with stakeholders from the various groups to look at models being tested across the country and to answer thought-provoking questions to help us move forward.

At the end of the day we will have a game plan in place so that we can develop the model for New Jersey. If we keep consumers in the center and consider their needs, then I am sure we will achieve the desired outcome.
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Putting Their Dreams on a Fast Track: Two New Jersey Nursing Scholars Reach Professional Goals

Primerose Germain and Elizabeth Arnold come from different worlds; one is a middle–aged immigrant from Haiti, the other a new mom in small-town New Jersey.

But these two very different women crossed paths two years ago when they were accepted to a scholarship program for aspiring nurse educators, and now they are traveling the same road to academia. Arnold is a new full-time faculty member at Kean University, and Germain was recently hired as an adjunct professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

“I’m excited to become a faculty member,” Arnold said. “I have a passion for teaching.”

Despite their differences, Arnold and Germain shared the same professional dream: teaching aspiring nurses and, in so doing, helping to curb a nurse shortage that threatens to undermine the quality of patient care.

But neither Arnold nor Germain was able to make her dream a reality—at least in the near term.

As working mothers, neither was able to attend graduate school on a full-time basis.

Germain, then a full-time clinical nurse and mother of three, could not afford to quit her job as a clinical nurse in East Orange, N.J., to go to school full-time, so she was working toward her master’s degree one slow course at a time at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. A native speaker of French Creole, she was also taking English language courses, which prolonged her education.

Arnold, meanwhile, had just given birth to her first son, and was not able to juggle the demands of a new baby with graduate school and a full-time job as a registered nurse and administrative nursing supervisor at Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington, N.J.

Scholarship Helps Arnold, Germain Go to School on a Full-Time Basis
Then they got wind of an opportunity from the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI), supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation, that provides select aspiring nurse educators with a scholarship for advanced studies covering tuition and fees, a $50,000-per-year stipend to cover living expenses over a period of two to four years, and a laptop computer.

The scholarship is part of NJNI, a multi-year, multi-million dollar project that is working to transform nursing education in the state. Its goal is to ensure that New Jersey has the well prepared, diverse nurse faculty it needs to educate nurses to meet the demand for health and health care in the 21st century.

Arnold and Germain applied and were two of 39 applicants accepted in the first cohort in 2009.

“I was ecstatic,” Arnold recalled. “I actually cried. It was like I won the lottery.”

Germain had a similar reaction. “For me,” she said, “it was a miracle.”

Both women said the scholarship enabled them to put their dreams on a fast track. Instead of postponing advanced education, as Arnold had decided to do, or taking courses one at a time, as Germain was doing, both women were able to quit their jobs and go to school on a full-time basis. That enabled them to accelerate their careers, save money, and spend more time at home with their families. Both women were also able to take advantage of mentoring and networking opportunities the scholarship offered.

“I was so happy,” Germain said. “If I hadn’t gotten the scholarship, it probably would have taken me three or four years, or longer, to finish my master’s degree and become a teacher.”

Now, Germain is working as a part-time clinical instructor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and is plotting her next move to become a full professor.

It’s a dream that has been long in the making. Germain left Haiti at 18. When she arrived in the United States, she switched her career goals from business to nursing, but it took a long time to save enough money to cover the high cost of tuition at U.S. nursing schools. She took on stints as a bartender and as a cook to earn enough to become a Licensed Practical Nurse. From there, she earned her R.N., then a B.S.N., and now, her M.S.N.

She worked for periods in between her studies while raising a daughter and two sons and doing volunteer work. Last year, she traveled to her native Haiti to help out after the massive earthquake devastated the country. Now she is studying for the national certification examination and working part-time as an instructor in a clinical laboratory. She plans to begin work toward a terminal degree—her D.N.P.—in January.

“I’d like to become my students’ friend,” she said. “I want to make learning easy for my students, rather than stressful, as it was at times for me.”

Arnold, for her part, begins teaching a full course load this fall, including classes in nurse leadership, transcultural nursing and an independent practicum. She is excited to build on her experience as a teacher, which includes a course she designed and taught on nursing and oncology, her area of expertise.

She too plans to pursue her doctorate soon. “My plan is to take this year to learn the culture of a faculty position and then start looking at different Ph.D. programs in the area,” she said.

Both women say they could not have achieved so much so fast without the help of the scholarship. “It’s just been a very positive, wonderful experience,” Arnold said.  “I’m now eager to start the next chapter in my career.”
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Building a Stronger Nursing Workforce: The Case for Nurse Residency in NJ

Just as residencies help give doctors the knowledge, familiarity and comfort with the clinical environment to practice successfully, residencies can have value for nurses.  But in nursing today,
“there is no structured system of residency,” said Susan Salmond, Ed.D., R.N., C.N.E., C.T.N., dean of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – School of Nursing.   As a result, clinical agencies hiring nursing graduates into entry level positions have had to provide extended orientations and, in some cases, more structured residencies to prepare them to succeed.

Salmond co-chairs the New Jersey Action Coalition’s working group on education progression. It is a volunteer-led work group tasked with developing and implementing plans to advance nurse education— one of the recommendations in the Institute of Medicine’s groundbreaking report on the future of nursing released in the fall of 2010.

The report, Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, provides a blueprint for improving health and health care by transforming the nursing profession. A key strategy is to facilitate the educational progression of nurses. Salmond’s working group is beginning to identify initiatives that would strengthen nurse education in the state, including by establishing a system of nurse residencies.

“We’re looking at when nurses transfer from academia to clinical practice, or when they move from one degree level to the next,” she said. “When these transfers occur, it is not necessarily the case that they will have been prepared with the competencies needed to practice and be effective in a clinical setting.”

Establishing a Nurse Residency
Currently, orientation programs for nurses transitioning to clinical settings in New Jersey vary widely.  Some last three weeks; others last nine months.  There is little, if any, coordination between schools and hospitals or other clinical settings.  “Creating a standard residency program that integrates both academia and practice will create a better prepared nurse,” added Deanna Sperling, M.A.S., R.N., C.N.A., B.C., vice president of patient care services at Kimball Medical Center.  Sperling is co-chair, with Salmond, of the New Jersey Action Coalition’s working group on education progression.

“Participating in a residency program will empower nurses by providing them a structured transition in which they can adapt to a new work environment. Residency programs would improve the retention of nurses, since they will feel better supported within their institutions, and it would provide consistency to a system that varies tremendously from institution to institution,” Sperling said.

Many states are currently considering nurse residencies, but are enacting them in different ways. Salmond and Sperling are exploring ways to establish a residency system in New Jersey for both entry-level nurses and nurse practitioners. The residency could last anywhere from six months to one year. The aim is not to repeat content, but to assist the new practitioner in applying knowledge and enhancing skills.  The program would have a strong focus on evidence-based practice and safety.

The nurse residency program will also include competencies in gerontology, because there will be a greater need for geriatric care in the state in coming years. Acute care settings, long-term care and home care would also be addressed.

The New Jersey residency program is still in the initial planning phase, and would not likely begin pilot programs before late 2012 or early 2013.

Collaboration is Key
In order for a system of nurse residency programs to take hold in the state, those in academia and practice will need to closely collaborate. Schools of nursing will need to help with curriculum development. The goal would be to offer academic credit for residency participation so that it encourages nurses to move to the next degree level, Salmond said. Health care facilities will need to identify funding for individuals to receive this kind of professional development, and will need to provide sites for residencies to take place.

“The standardization of nurse residencies in New Jersey would have a significant impact on patient safety by strengthening the health care workforce,” said Salmond.

“This has been a long time in coming,” noted Sperling. “People are really excited about this and we have a lot of momentum and energy right now. There’s no doubt nurse residencies would help our profession grow, and make it stronger.”
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All the News That’s Fit to Blog

What do a school nurse researcher, the president of the chamber of commerce, the leader of an insurance provider, and a new nurse faculty member have in common? All have blogged for, or have been blogged about, on New Jersey’s latest source for nursing news.

In May the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) launched the News & Notes on Nursing in NJ blog, a virtual space for news and updates on issues related to nursing in the state.

Throughout the summer, the blog has posted stories by and about nurse leaders, education challenges and triumphs,new resources, and more. A weekly news digest offers the top stories on nursing.
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New Publication from RWJF Focuses on IOM’s Recommendations for Nurses’ Educational Progression

Following up on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine’s landmark Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health report, the latest edition of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Charting Nursing’s Future series focuses on increasing the formal education of the nation’s nursing workforce. Perhaps most notably, the report calls for greater emphasis on bachelor’s and doctoral degrees, and sets specific targets. Among those targets: 80 percent of the nursing workforce with a bachelor’s or higher degree by 2020 and doubling the current percentage of nurses with doctoral degrees by the same date.

As the new Charting Nursing’s Future observes, these goals “will require fundamental changes: new competency-based curricula; seamless educational progression; more funding for accelerated programs, educational capacity building, and student diversity; and stronger employer incentives to spur progression.” The publication covers each of these topics in detail, discussing key challenges and solutions, and offering success stories from programs already in place.

The issue is the first of four that will focus on implementing Future of Nursing recommendations. Charting Nursing’s Future is available for free download here. To subscribe to free delivery of future editions to your email inbox, click here.
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Did You Know…?

The New Jersey Nursing Initiative has just released the results of a statewide asset mapping project that has helped the Initiative identify people, places and other resources that can be brought to bear to help end New Jersey’s nursing shortage. See NJ Map in Resources Section.
This online database will help policy-makers and others determine which resources can be employed and where, to ensure that people all across the state have access to quality health care.
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