Category Archives: Voices from the Field

Oct 20 2014
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Thoughts on Mentoring

For 23 years, Project L/EARN has created stronger candidates for admission to graduate programs. The intensive, 10-week summer internship provides training, experience, and mentoring to undergraduate college students from socioeconomic, ethnic, and cultural groups that traditionally have been underrepresented in graduate education. Project L/EARN is a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, and Rutgers University. In this post, interns and mentors share their insights on the value of mentoring in general, and on Project L/EARN in particular. For more, check out an accompanying Infographic: Project L/EARN: Milestones.

“Project L/EARN mentoring has been incredibly instrumental in my career path and has contributed greatly to my professional success. The program was my first major introduction to research, and helped me to apply and reinforce research methods and statistical analysis skills throughout my undergraduate and graduate years.” — Anuli Uzoaru Njoku, 1999 Intern

“Mentoring means allowing me to experience how someone else sees me—someone who believes in me and sees my potential, someone who can set my sights higher and in the right direction.” — Tamarie Macon, 2006 Intern

“Project L/EARN mentoring, then and now, has been the difference between the summer program being a one-time experience, and the beginning of an educational and professional career that will undoubtedly contribute to the story of my life. The mentoring was the avenue by which my truest potential, of which I had no real awareness, was discovered and cultivated. That cultivation has resulted, and is still resulting, in opportunities and accomplishments that are beyond my imagination.” — David Fakunle, 2008 Intern

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Oct 15 2014
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Let’s Have a Conversation about Food that Goes Beyond Restriction and Restraint—and Resonates with Real People

Sonya Grier, PhD, MBA, is an associate professor of marketing at the Kogod School of Business at American University in Washington, D.C., and an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Health & Society Scholars program (2003-2005).

Sonya Grier Sonya Grier, PhD, MBA

Human Capital Blog: Congratulations on receiving the Thomas C. Kinnear award for your 2011 article in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing on food well-being! Please tell us about the award.

Sonya Grier: The award honors articles published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing (JPP&M) that have made a significant contribution to the understanding of marketing and public policy issues. This year, eligible articles needed to have been published between 2010 and 2012. The marketing community was called upon to nominate articles for the award. JPP&M editorial review board members and associate editors then voted among the nominees.

Generously funded by Thomas C. Kinnear, his colleagues, friends and former students, and administered through the American Marketing Association  Foundation, the award’s purpose is to recognize authors who have produced particularly high-quality and impactful research in marketing and public policy.

HCB: How did your article do that?

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Oct 10 2014
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BSN Qualifications Recommended for the Nation’s Nurses: Four Years of Progress

Linda H. Aiken, PhD, RN, FAAN, is the Claire Fagin Professor of Nursing, professor of sociology, director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, and senior fellow of the Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. Olga Yakusheva, PhD, is an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing.

Linda Aiken Linda H. Aiken

Four years ago the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) landmark report on the future of nursing was released. The study was remarkable in multiple respects including the interdisciplinary perspectives of national experts comprising the study committee, the breadth and scope of the study, its actionable recommendations, and the commitment of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to provide philanthropic funds to help implement the study’s recommendations—a rarity. One net result of the IOM Report, as viewed on the 4th anniversary of its release, is its notable impact on the commitment of stakeholders to finally make the transition of the nation’s nurse workforce to BSN qualifications, after many decades of limited progress.

Olga Yakusheva - medium enlarge Olga Yakusheva

Changing trends in nurse employment and education: The IOM recommended that 80 percent of nurses in the United States hold at least a baccalaureate in nursing (BSN) by the year 2020. The recommendation was quite bold considering that two-thirds of new nurses still graduated with less than a BSN, despite numerous previous reports and commissions over decades recommending the BSN as the entry qualification for professional nurses.  

While the percentage of nurses with bachelor’s and graduate education had been slowly increasing over time, when the IOM report was issued only about 49 percent of nurses held a BSN. However, the IOM’s recommendation, based upon a growing research base documenting that patient outcomes were better in settings that employed more BSN-qualified nurses, acted as a tipping point to mobilize responses from many stakeholders that together are impacting changes in nurses’ qualifications.

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Oct 9 2014
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Hospitals Must Recruit Nurses to Their Leadership Boards

This week marks the 4th anniversary of the Institute of Medicine’s future of nursing report. David L. Knowlton is president and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute.

David Knowlton

Nurses truly run the front lines of hospitals. Their leadership oversees every hospital quality initiative essential to improving care—from reducing hospital-acquired infections, to cutting unnecessary readmissions, to preventing patient falls.

Poor scores in these quality measures now result in government penalties that can hit hospitals hard.

And as health care evolves and hospitals stretch beyond their own walls, nurses are leading the programs that bring health care into communities. They are critical to the success of health reform as more Americans obtain health insurance and seek primary care.

So tell me something? Why is the highest level of hospital leadership in our nation nearly devoid of nurses?

Surveys find the number of nurses with voting positions on hospital boards is about 4 to 6 percent — an unfathomable statistic for anyone who understands, even a little, how hospitals work.

We need the leadership of nurses on every hospital board.

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Oct 8 2014
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Proud to be ‘The Nurse on the Board’!

This week marks the 4th anniversary of the Institute of Medicine’s future of nursing report. Fran Roberts, PhD, RN, FAAN, is owner and executive leader of the Fran Roberts Group, a consulting and contracting practice providing expertise on health care leadership, higher education, governance, regulation and patient safety. The Kate Aurelius Visiting Professor for the University of Arizona College of Medicine–Phoenix, Roberts serves on the boards of directors of several health care organizations, including the Presbyterian Central New Mexico Health System. She is an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Executive News Fellows program.

Fran Roberts

“Leadership from nurses is needed at every level and across all settings.” That’s what the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Future of Nursing panel wrote in its 2011 report—a message I’ve taken to heart. Here’s why the IOM was exactly right.

I’ve served (and still serve) on several health-related boards, in most cases as the only nurse in a group dominated by physicians, local business leaders, and administrators. My experience on the Presbyterian Central New Mexico Healthcare Services board, which I now chair, is both representative and instructive. I joined the board about eight years ago, recruited by one of my colleagues in the RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows program, Kathy Davis, RN, the senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Presbyterian.

It was an honor to be asked, doubly so because I live and work out of state. But Presbyterian had concluded that it needed a nurse with executive experience on its board, so I got the call.

I started my first term on the board determined not to pigeon-hole myself as “the nurse on the board.” I didn’t want my fellow board members to think I had tunnel vision, unable to see beyond the need to advocate for nurses. That’s not to say I didn’t intend to advocate for nurses when that was called for, but I didn’t want to be limited to that, either in my colleagues’ estimation or in reality.

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Oct 7 2014
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A Business Community Board Role Broadens a Nurse Leader’s Horizons

This week marks the 4th anniversary of the Institute of Medicine’s future of nursing report. Sandra McDermott, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, is an assistant professor of nursing and the director of health and service related professions at Tarleton State University in Fort Worth, Texas. A member of the Texas Team Action Coalition, which recently launched the Nurses On Board training program, she is a newly appointed member of the board of directors for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce South Area Council.

Sandra McDermott

I have been in my university director position for about six months now, and I knew that before I started teaching classes this fall, I had an opportunity to really get involved in the Fort Worth community. I wanted to get my name out there, because when I do that, I am getting my school’s name out there, too. I started attending Chamber events and enjoyed them, and I realized that the South Area Council is the one that encompasses the hospital district, which is where I want to have a lot of my connections.

If my role is to draw nursing students and build awareness for our nursing programs, then clearly, focusing on the hospital district makes a lot of sense. I had made a strong connection with a South Area Council board member, so I lobbied the Chamber to join the board, and they ultimately added a new spot and appointed me to it, which was very humbling. They did not have a university represented on the Council, and they saw value in having a nurse and an educator join them.

The main campus for my school is about 90 miles away. Everyone knows about our presence there, where there are around 8,600 students. But in Fort Worth, we have around 1,600 students, and the nursing programs are relatively new and very small. I knew I needed to be out in the community as we build up our programs, and what better way to do it than to be at multiple Chamber functions? And as a board member, I knew I could influence a lot more people. In the hospital district, I can go in as not only a nurse and an educator, but a Chamber leader as well. That is a great platform to advocate for my school programs and for wellness and health care as community priorities.

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Oct 3 2014
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Meeting the Needs of Children in Partnership with Nurses and Nurse Practitioners

Sunny G. Hallowell, PhD, APRN, is a postdoctoral fellow, and Danielle Altares Sarik, MSN, APRN, a predoctoral fellow, at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. Hallowell is also a Leonard Davis Institute Fellow. Both are pediatric nurse practitioners serving on the executive board of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, Pennsylvania Delaware Valley Chapter. Monday, October 6, is National Child Health Day.

Sunny G. Hallowell Sunny G. Hallowell

Many Americans may not know that children born in the United States are less likely to survive to their fifth birthday than children born in other high-income peer countries. The United States falls at the bottom of the Commonwealth Fund’s recently released “Mirror, Mirror” report, ranking last out of 11 countries for infant mortality.  

As children hold the greatest potential to achieve good health, high infant and child mortality may be particularly surprising.  Early lifestyle and health care decisions can set children on a trajectory that determines their health for a lifetime.  

Danielle Altares Sarik Danielle Altares Sarik

As a country, we can do more to ensure the health of our youngest and most vulnerable population. Using nurses and nurse practitioners (NP) to the highest level of their education and training is one strategy. Robust use of nurses and NPs can offer solutions to improve infant and child survival rates through prenatal, postnatal and early childhood health surveillance. 

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Oct 1 2014
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New Journal Covers Emerging Field of Health Economics

Deborah Haas-Wilson, PhD, is a visiting professor of public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a member of the editorial board of the forthcoming American Journal of Health Economics. In 1994, she received a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Investigator Award in Health Policy Research to study antitrust policy and the transformation of health care markets.

Deborah Haas-Wilson

Human Capital Blog: Congratulations on your appointment to the editorial board of the American Journal of Health Economics. Can you tell us about the journal’s mission?

Deborah Haas-Wilson: I am very pleased to be serving on the editorial board of the American Journal of Health Economics (AJHE), along with many distinguished health economists, including Frank Sloan, PhD, who is the editor-in-chief.

A little about the AJHE: The plan is to publish quarterly with the first issue scheduled for the winter of 2015. The mission of the AJHE is to provide a forum for theoretical and empirical analyses of health care systems and health behaviors.

HCB: What topics will the AJHE cover?          

Haas-Wilson: Topics of particular interest include the impact of the Accountable Care Act, pharmaceutical regulation, the supply of medical devices, the increasing obesity rate, the influence of an aging and more diverse population on health care systems, and competition and competition policy in the markets for hospital services, physician services, pharmaceuticals and health care financing.

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Sep 29 2014
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Intimate Partner Violence: What We Tell Our Children Can Make a Difference

A. Monique Clinton-Sherrod, PhD, is a 2008 alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s New Connections program. She is an RTI research psychologist with extensive experience in prevention research associated with a variety of psychosocial issues.

Monique Clinton-Sherrod

Recently while watching ESPN with my two children, we saw nonstop coverage of the Ray Rice incident, including the video of Mr. Rice violently assaulting Janay Palmer, his then-fiancée. I was peppered with questions from my children. 

“Did he get arrested? Why did he do that? What did she do? Is that something they shouldn’t show on television because it’s private?”

The recurring images and my children’s questions were all the more jarring because I recently lost a sorority sister in a murder-suicide by her former husband. These experiences have served as an unfortunate but teachable moment for my daughter and son, and reinforced the importance of my life’s work—both for my children and for society as a whole. 

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Sep 24 2014
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Helping ‘Care Partners’ Help Patients with Diabetes

Ann-Marie Rosland, MD, MS, is a research scientist at the VA Ann Arbor Center for Clinical Management Research, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan Medical School, and an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholars program (2006-2009). She recently received a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Merit Award to test a family engagement intervention for patients with diabetes.

Ann Marie Rosland

Human Capital Blog: Congratulations on your Veterans Health Administration (VA) Merit Award! The award recognizes your research into a family engagement intervention in the context of the VA’s patient-centered medical home program. How did your study work, and what did you find?

Ann-Marie Rosland: This study is unique in that we work with family member/patient pairs in managing diabetes. We call these family members “care partners.” This study asks the question:  “How we can best recognize and support the vital roles that patients’ family members often take in the care of chronic illnesses, so these care partners can have the largest positive impact on patients’ health and medical care?”

Our prior work has shown that the majority of people with diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions have a family member who is regularly involved with the care of these conditions. Some help to keep track of medications and refill them, some help to track and manage symptoms or sugar readings, many come to medical appointments and help patients communicate with their medical teams, and some help patients navigate the health care system. In general, patients who have support from family members tend to be more successful at managing chronic illness, particularly with eating healthier and exercising more. Yet patients and family tell us that care partners face barriers in helping with the medical side of care; for example, they can’t easily find out what medications or tests the patient’s medical team is recommending, or what health system programs are available to the patient.

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