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the TRAIL BLAZER Winter 2012 NEWS FOR AND ABOUT THE UAB SCHOOL OF NURSING KEYSto the future A landmark study by the Institute of Medicine calls for nurses to play a leadership role in transforming American healthcare. The UAB School of Nursing is already preparing students to meet that challenge. In 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), partnering with The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, released a seminal two-year study titled The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. The study focused on effectively delivering comprehensive healthcare to a population that is growing older and more diverse—ethnically, culturally, and socioeconomically. These demographic shifts, coupled with the effects of higher rates of obesity and other chronic diseases, have dramatically altered the healthcare landscape. The IOM advocates a new model for delivering high-quality, patient-centered care, a model that brings together physicians, nurses, therapists, pharmacists—skilled practitioners from every corner of the healthcare community. These teams should focus, the study says, not on the acute illnesses and injuries predominant in the 20th century, but on prevention and management of chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and mental health conditions. As the largest component of the healthcare workforce, nurses are vital partners in leading this transformation through education and interprofessional collaboration. Nurses are the linchpin, the hub of any care team. That’s why three out of four key messages within the IOM report are focused on preparing nurses for leadership. UAB already has its sights set on those goals. 1 PRACTICE TO ADVANCE HEALTH Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training. The South has many inner-city and rural communities with diverse, underserved populations where Advanced Practice Nurses (APN’s) could fill critical gaps in healthcare delivery. UAB’s Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (NP) track is one of the top ten in the country, and its Family Nurse Practitioner track is in the top 12. Yet, these nurses often experience unanticipated barriers to practice because regulations and policies vary from state to state. These regulations can prevent APN’s from practicing to the full extent of their education and training, and in the process, limit access for families. “Accredited nurse practitioner programs in Alabama graduate more than 600 NP’s annually, 70 percent of whom are trained in primary care specialties,” explains UAB School of Nursing Dean Doreen Harper, PhD, RN, FAAN. “And yet, the number of certified registered NP’s actually working in Alabama has not risen appreciably. Instead, talented, experienced, and specialized nurses are being lost to surrounding states with fewer practice restrictions, thereby reducing access—especially in medically underserved areas.”

TrailBlazer Winter 2012

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