| Dear %%Informal%%, |
We have known for a long time that things must change. In the 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, we are told that nursing education must advance interprofessional education (IPE) to ensure high quality, patient-centered care for today’s highly complex health care system. That same year, an Interprofessional Health Care Panel issued core competencies for IPE.
Our challenge? How do nurse faculty work with peers in other health care professions to provide students with learning opportunities that reflect the current realities of today’s health care system? How can nursing education be strengthened to reflect nurses’ integral role in the delivery of team-based, patient-centered care? We at the NLN saw the call for IPE that prepares nurses for interprofessional practice as our challenge. We recognized that it was our responsibility to provide faculty with professional development opportunities to respond systematically to today’s realities and tomorrow’s challenges.
As always, we began with co-creating a vision. Interprofessional Collaboration in Education and Practice, a Living Document from the NLN, approved by the NLN Board of Governors in December 2015, lays out the history of the IPE movement and issues a series of recommendations for deans, directors, and chairs of nursing programs; for faculty; and for the NLN. Among other things, we are committed to working with other professional organizations in nursing and health care to develop model curricula for undergraduate and graduate programs that integrate IPE and interprofessional practice. And we will work with policy makers to advocate for funding for schools to deliver educational and practice models that foster greater collaboration among the professions.
Recognizing that the challenge we face is enormous, I am proud to tell you about our newest toolkit for schools of nursing, released just last week: Guide to Effective Interprofessional Education Experiences in Nursing Education. You will find it to be extremely helpful as you prepare for IPE at your institution; as you develop activities and teaching strategies; as you plan to evaluate your innovations; and as you work toward sustainability and reinforce positive teamwork behaviors and improvements in process. The toolkit is yours at no charge and you may adapt the materials for use in your institution. You will find it essential in your IPE journey. You will especially love the numerous learning activities the toolkit provides in detail.
Now I must give a shout out to the primary author of the toolkit, Dr. Elizabeth Speakman, co-director of the Jefferson Interprofessional Education Center and associate professor in the Jefferson School of Nursing at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and former member of the NLN Board of Governors. Dr. Speakman worked on this project as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellow from 2012-2015. We are grateful to the interprofessional team from Thomas Jefferson University who worked with Liz to make it come alive. I must also acknowledge, with thanks, our own chief program officer, Dr. Elaine Tagliareni, who collaborated with Liz on the writing. What a job they did!
Before I close, a word about the Zika virus, and its alarming ramifications for health care in this hemisphere. A few weeks ago, few of us knew about this virus – now we are all too familiar with the threat it presents to pregnant women and their infants. As nurses and faculty, we will be asked questions. I found an article in the New York Times, “Short Answers to Hard Questions About Zika Virus,” to be very clear and informative. This is an unfortunate reminder that we live in a small and complex world, and a virus that originates in one area can spread quickly to others. Nurses and nurse educators, working in teams with other health care professionals, will have an important role to play in health promotion and patient care. Let’s hope that efforts to develop a vaccine will be successful, and that with good sense and teamwork, we can mitigate the effects of this new potentially worldwide danger.
As you prepare to discuss Zika and other infectious diseases with your students, let me call your attention to a report from the Commission on a Global Health Risk Framework for the Future from the National Academy of Medicine released on January 13. The report, "The Neglected Dimension of Global Security: A Framework to Counter Infectious Disease Crises," highlights the importance of pandemic preparedness as more than a health issue but as essential to economic stability. It is worthwhile reading at this time.
Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN
Chief Executive Officer