AACN Leader Visits UR School of Nursing

Deborah Trautman, PhD, RN, FAAN, president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), visited the School of Nursing campus during Commencement Week, taking time to meet with faculty and nurses to learn more about the school and University of Rochester Medical Center.

Deb TrautmanA few hours before she delivered the keynote address to nursing graduates on Friday, May 13 we had a chance to sit down with her to talk about her visit, the school, and where nursing education is headed.

How has your visit gone so far?

I was impressed with the School of Nursing faculty and their great work. Some of the research that’s happening here is absolutely cutting edge and addresses what needs to happen to improve nursing practice. I love that the faculty are diverse in their research interests and expertise.

Last evening I had the chance to meet with some faculty and in every single interaction, you could see this spark of excitement and interest in moving the profession forward. It was visible, it was clear. I thought to myself as they were talking: if only we could have future nurse scientists — or those who are not considering a career as a nurse scientist—hear the conversation, it would have been fabulous.

Why is that?

In the nursing profession, with absolute certainty, the caring that the profession brings to the work we do is well understood. But nursing’s generation of new knowledge, new technology, and new discoveries may not be as well understood across the larger community.

Several of the examples shared by School of Nursing faculty yesterday will have an impact on policy, at an organizational and even federal level. The conversations I was privileged to have were reflective of the depth and breadth of what the nursing profession, and in particular the faculty here, is doing to improve health and health care. It’s important for people to understand this broad contribution and how it impacts education, practice, research, and policy.

So, what can we do to share those stories and increase awareness about the nursing profession and education?

Deb Trautman KeynoteWe – all of nursing and we at AACN – have to continue to be a major part of sharing stories about what researchers  do, how they got to where they are, and the trials and tribulations that come with being a nurse scientist. It’s one thing to say the nursing profession makes a difference, it’s another to hear specific examples of how that’s occurring through new developments in nursing science.

We need to share the extraordinary contributions that each of these nurse researchers/faculty members are making in the larger health care arena.

The UR School of Nursing was recently recognized in an AACN report on academic nursing’s expanding role. (Advancing Healthcare Transformation: A New Era for Academic Nursing) Can you talk about that?

The University of Rochester has been a role model in establishing partnerships that bring leaders in both academia and practice together, including those within nursing and other health professions. This type of collaborative engagement is critical to shaping the future of health care. Practicing in silos like we used to do is becoming less and less of a desired approach. Teams are so important, and not just in the delivery of care, but also to advancing the goals and objectives of an organization. Rochester is a leader in this regard. I’ve witnessed that firsthand on my visit.

What opportunities lie ahead for nursing education?

I believe there is a national consensus that despite our best examples – and this is an institution that continues to role model leadership and high quality clinical care – we still must do better as a nation in terms of health care delivery.

Where we don’t yet have consensus is what those solutions are. A one size fits all solution is not feasible; different strategies are needed.

Certainly one of those strategies for improving health care is interprofessional education and practice. Bringing health professionals together to learn and practice as a team will help to leverage the unique contribution that all health care providers bring to patient care and lead to better outcomes. It’s an important foundation that we can build a better future upon.

Demographics of the student population are also changing, creating more opportunities for those who want to enter the nursing profession. We have individuals coming into nursing who have had previous careers, and more individuals are entering higher education as older adults. This new wave of future nurses is helping to increase the diversity of the student population – adding an element of richness to the profession.

The University of Rochester is an institution that’s continues to grow and evolve, meeting the needs of the community and adjusting and managing the needs of the workforce. The support for continued academic pursuit is fabulous here. By investing in continuing education of employees, it sends the message that lifelong learning is important. I look forward to watching the School of Nursing’s continued growth and leadership in advancing nursing science.