For the past year or so, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has been rolling out efforts designed to bring nurses into the fold of health policy movers and shakers. The thinking here is that, through education and support, nurses can emerge as leaders at the community level to push strategies to improve the health of the population, "build partnerships with key stakeholders in organizations and communities," and influence policy.
The bigger aim, of course, is to advance RWJF's overall vision of building a "culture of health." To achieve that vision, the foundation's grand plan for its human capital investments in the future is to mobilize a vanguard to help take down a toxic culture in which, as we've written, "a Big Mac passes for a square meal, thirty yards is considered a long walk (from the car), and 200-pound 11-year-olds play video games all afternoon."
As part of this work, RWJF is keenly focused on pushing change at the state level, through its backing of Campaign for Action, an effort started in 2010 that seeks to "transform health care through nursing by mobilizing coalitions representing nurses, other health providers, consumers, educators and businesses." The foundation recently announced grants totaling $3.15 million to help expand that work.
Awarded through the foundation's Future of Nursing State Implementation Program, two-year grants of $150,000 will establish Campaign for Action coalitions in Arizona, Maine, and West Virginia. Coalitions like this already exist in eighteen states, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, and together, they aim to “transform the delivery of health care,” and “meet the challenges stemming from an aging and more diverse population.”
The AARP is a partner in this work with RWJF, and you can understand why. As the boomers retire and age, demands on the U.S. healthcare system will soar. If the system doesn't do a better job of reducing costs, stretching resources, and increasing quality, older Americans will be among the big losers. Nurses can play a big role in pushing changes to achieve all those goals.