Health Workforce Institute Report Call Upon Nurses to Address Growing Health Care Issues

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03/18/2019 10:36

A new report authored by Professor Patricia Pittman, co-director of The George Washington University Health Workforce Institute (HWI), outlines the pivotal role that nursing must play in a continually evolving health system.

Her report, Activating Nursing to Address Unmet Needs in the 21st Century, was commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to provide background for the National Academy of Medicine’s recently launched Committee on the Future of Nursing 2020-2030.

Dr. Pittman, a professor of health policy and management at GW’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, also holds a faculty appointment at GW Nursing, which is one of several GW schools affiliated with the HWI.

Nurses today have the potential to help transform the health care system to address growing health problems that are deeply rooted in social and economic conditions. To do this, nursing leaders must strengthen a core set of nursing functions, embrace the idea of working at the intersection of other professions, and bolster nursing education with a stronger focus on population health, health equity and programs to ensure diversity in the nursing workforce, Dr. Pittman said.

“This comprehensive report provides a clear vision for how nursing can meet emerging population health needs—in larger part by embracing its roots as a holistic profession, focused on the need of patients and communities, and working in concert with a range of other professions,” said GW Nursing Dean Pamela Jeffries.

“We are proud that this historic report has been developed by our colleague Patricia Pittman,” said Dr. Jeffries, who also serves on the Board of the American Academy of Nursing. Dr. Pittman is an honorary member of the academy.

Dr. Pittman’s report points to the kinds of roles that must be developed to allow more nurses to take up roles in meeting unmet population needs—roles that allow them to work to the extent of their education and licensure.

“This is a challenge not only to nurse educators, but to health systems leaders and to policy-makers,” said Dr. David Keepnews, a health policy faculty member at GW Nursing and program director for its new Doctor of Nursing Practice in Health Policy program.

“This is why GW Nursing is committed to preparing nurses who are prepared to provide, coordinate and plan services that meet unmet population needs,” he said, “and also to lead policy changes that can ensure nurses’ ability to do just that.”

Dr. Pittman’s report also calls for “a robust research agenda” to “inform and spur the process of change.”

 “In launching our new PhD in Nursing program, which will welcome its first cohort this fall, GW Nursing looks forward to helping to build and carry out that research agenda,” Dean Jeffries said.