Responding to the National Academy of Medicine’s Call to Upskill Nurses

In The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) put forth a vision for how the nursing profession will help our nation achieve “a culture of health, reduced health disparities and improved health and well-being of the U.S. population in the 21st century.” It’s not surprising that nurses play a pivotal role. As the COVID-19 pandemic vividly illustrated, nurses serve as the backbone of our health care system, providing frontline care and contributing considerable talents and leadership skills not only to hospitals and clinics but to entire communities.

But as the need for nurses continues to grow, the number of trained nurse professionals – already a crisis before the pandemic – remains in short supply. Vacancies are driven by the large number of nurses retiring, the burnout level of existing nurses and an uneven distribution of talent across regions in the U.S. This shortage could put NAM’s call for effective, efficient, equitable and accessible care for all in jeopardy. The question, then, is how health care systems can better support nurses so they not only remain in the profession but can practice to the full extent of their education and training.

Allegheny Health Network (AHN), a health care system in Western Pennsylvania with 14 hospitals and over 21,000 employees, is meeting the challenge by removing barriers to education and professional development so nurses can grow and take on new roles. As Paula Coe, vice president, nursing education and professional practice for AHN, explains, a key strategy of AHN’s plan to upskill and reskill nurses is to offer access to degree programs without the financial burden of loans or out-of-pocket tuition costs. “Part of our nursing excellence strategy is to have more nurses achieve the BSN level,” Coe says. “From a practice perspective, that’s really important to us.”

This type of career development is also critical across the industry. According to a recent survey by McKinsey and Company, 41% of over 13,000 respondents cited lack of career development/ advancement as the most common reason for quitting their previous jobs.

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Learn how Strategic Education Inc and Allegheny Health Network are building ready and resilient workforces by partnering to improve nurse education, provide affordable pathways to leadership, and ensure that nurses can practice to the full extent of their education and training.

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