Last week I had the privilege of speaking with Carole Eldridge, RN, DNP, CNE, NEA-BC, Director of Graduate Programs at Chamberlain College of Nursing. This fall, Chamberlain is launching a new Masters of Science in Nursing Healthcare Policy Track and I was particularly interested in learning more about Dr. Eldridge, as I’ve been following her on twitter for years (@Nerdnurse), and about this new MSN track.

I was more than impressed when I asked Dr. Eldridge to share her nursing background with me. In a nutshell, after about 15 years in acute care (including critical care, post-surgical care, hemodialysis, and transplant), Dr. Eldridge and her husband moved to Africa for about a year to run a health clinic. When she returned to the U.S., she started a Home Health and Hospice Agency which grew into about 50 agencies in 4 states! After selling this business, Dr. Eldridge became interested in education and saw a need for training nurse aides. She started her own publishing company which developed training packets. After selling this company, Dr. Eldridge returned to school herself for her MSN in Leadership and Healthcare Business, and later her DNP. She taught for about 3 years, and since then has held various titles including Director of a Master’s program, Dean, and Campus President. Wow!

In her current role, Dr. Eldridge oversees all of the graduate programs at Chamberlain College of Nursing. As previously stated, this fall, a new Healthcare Policy track is available for MSN students. The development of this track is timely in the wake of the report from the Institute of Medicine – The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health – and as we approach a Presidential election here in the United States. An MSN in Healthcare Policy will prepare nurses to be active in bill and policy writing, foundations, education and training, academia and research, disease investigations, health services, and other positions where one can “Impart the voice of nursing to direct the path of healthcare policies that benefit patients, the community, our nation and the world.”

This particular program involves 6 core courses (foundational concepts, theory, informatics, leadership, research, and basic healthcare policy) and 6 specialty courses (healthcare systems, economics, global health, nurse leadership and healthcare policy, healthcare policy practicum, and a capstone project).  When asked for more details about the capstone project, Dr. Eldridge gave me several examples that students from similar programs have done, such as global health projects, legislative proposals, and oral testimony collaboration. The coursework is flexible, can be completed in 2 years, and is completely online.

My favorite part of our conversation had to be discussing the upcoming election. Dr. Eldridge reminds us that as nurses, we have a responsibility to be politically engaged in order to best advocate for our patients. In particular, we need to be alert to the following:

  • Economics – how will healthcare be funded? 
  • Affordable Care Act
  • The aging population, including funding their care & medical devices
  • “Equitable access”
  • Epidemiology
  • Vaccines
  • Global Healthcare 

Remember, Florence Nightingale was our first political activist. As nurses, let’s remain educated about the issues and share our voice. We are more than 3 million strong – it’s important that we are heard!

Resources:

The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health 

Keeping Health Care Reform Healthy, Patients Informed (American Nurses Association) 

ANA’s Policy and Advocacy page 

ANA's Nurses Strategic Action Team (N-STAT)