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I have written several times over the past two years about the 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. The report, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in collaboration with the IOM, is a landmark report tasked with making recommendations for the discipline of nursing in relation to America's health care needs. The committee, composed of 18 prestigious leaders from numerous fields (e.g. academia, practice, education, medicine, industry, health policy, government), identified four key concepts that drove their specific recommendations:
1. Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training.
2. Nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression.
3. Nurses should be full partners with physicians and other health professionals in redesigning health care in the United States.
4. Effective workforce planning and policy making require better data collection and an improved information infrastructure.
In keeping with our association's commitment to be visionary nursing leaders in the discipline of nursing, our Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA) Board of Directors, American Board of Certification for Gastroenterology Nurses (ABCGN) President and President-Elect, Gastroenterology Nursing (GNJ) editor, and SGNA staff took dedicated time at the winter board meeting to examine how SGNA is currently supporting these recommendations and reaffirm our commitment to incorporate these recommendations in our association's strategic plan as appropriate.
The group identified evidence of SGNA's commitment to the key concept of practicing to the full extent of nurses' education including our association's investment in leadership and management training for members, member education for engaging in policy efforts, the Fellows and Scholars programs, certification, and our role delineations. While SGNA does not directly influence higher education (key concept two) in the traditional sense, our association delivers education in a variety of ways including our annual course, certification materials, practice webinars, practice portfolios, and the SGNA Fellows and Scholar programs. Annual educational scholarships directly support our members' efforts to achieve higher education through academia.
Related to key concept three, being engaged as a team member in redesigning health care in the United States, SGNA has been very active in advocacy efforts for gastroenterology patients as well as the discipline of nursing. Thanks to thoughtful and skilled negotiations of SGNA leadership, we have established collaborative relationships with other gastroenterology organizations such as the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) and Digestive Disease National Coalition (DDNC). SGNA took the lead in establishing the Infection Prevention consortium, bringing together industry leaders and related organizational partners to focus on the key issue of infection control and its relationship to patient and provider safety.
Finally, SGNA is actively engaged in gathering data in a variety of areas such as the focus of our benchmarking task force, the evidence-based practice initiatives, our new social media plan, and support of the GIQuIC program, a benchmarking registry used by gastroenterology physicians to assess quality in endoscopic care. The new social media plan, adopted at the winter board meeting, will provide greater infrastructure for communicating and collecting data of all kinds from SGNA members. Understanding our member demographics, practice patterns, and communication preferences is key to supporting the goal of effective workforce planning and policy making at the national level.
The context in which SGNA exists is complex and dynamic. Assuring that our association is "at the table," influencing policy, care delivery, and role development is critical for the continued success of nursing's influence in gastroenterology specialty care. While our initial assessment of SGNA's support of the IOM recommendations is reassuring, our organization must actively engage in supporting and advancing the discipline of nursing to actively shape health care delivery in the days to come.
Institute of Medicine (IOM). (2011). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health (3rd ed.). Washington DC: National Academies of Sciences.
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