Faculty Member Impacts “Future of Nursing”

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Earlier this month, the prestigious Committee on the Future of Nursing released its recommendations to redesign the nursing profession for 2011 and beyond.

“My selection to this pivotal committee was very unexpected, and although daunted by the task at hand, I was delighted they chose me to serve on this,” says Rosa Maria Gonzalez-Guarda, PhD, MPH, RN, assistant professor at the school, and one of the younger members to be selected for the prestigious committee, which is sponsored by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the RobertWood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

Chaired by Donna E. Shalala, University of Miami president and former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, the 18-member committee consists of researchers, health professionals, and leaders from academia, the healthcare industry and nonprofit organizations.

Over the course of a year, committee participants examined critical issues regarding the nursing profession and healthcare in America. Based on these assessments, the committee created a report with bold recommendations to improve the quality and efficacy of patient care. Gonzalez-Guarda says this initiative is especially timely with the recent passage of the healthcare reform law. The committee’s key recommendations include the following: nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training; nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression; nurses should be full partners with physicians and other healthcare professionals in redesigning healthcare in the U.S.; effective workforce planning and policy making require better data collection and improved information infrastructure. (A full list of the recommendations is available at http://www.miami.edu/sonhs, then click on “Future of Nursing Panel Recommendations.”)

“The RWJF has provided resources to make sure this report is implemented. Part of the initiative is to hold people accountable so the recommendations are directed to individual organizations, governments, etc.,” Gonzalez-Guarda says. “This initiative is set within the context of what’s better for society at large, not necessarily for the discipline.”

Gonzalez-Guarda’s training across health disciplines clinched her as an ideal candidate for the committee. Aside from a bachelor’s in nursing and a dual master’s degree in public health and community health nursing, she also earned an interdisciplinary PhD from the University of Miami, where she tapped into the departments of epidemiology, psychology and nursing.

The committee gathered information for its recommendations by conducting three public town hall meetings, where hundreds attended and dozens shared testimony and offered opinions. These town hall meetings covered the future of nursing education, community health, public health, primary care, long-term care, and the acute care setting.

The recommendations provide a blueprint for what nurses and healthcare providers, governments,academic institutions and other public and private organizations can do to optimize the role of nursing within a reformed healthcare system in a manner that would improve healthcare for all. “We must ensure these recommendations are implemented in a way that improves quality, culturally appropriate care for a more diverse population,” Gonzalez-Guarda says.


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