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Nurses should prepare for change, expert says

by UofL Today last modified May 04, 2010 04:41 PM

Nurses can lead the way in health care reform, but more of them need to pursue advanced degrees, a national nursing leader said at a UofL Nurses Week celebration on May 3.

Nurses should prepare for change, expert says

Polly Bednash

Polly Bednash, PhD, RN, FAAN, executive director of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, spoke at the Clinical and Translational Research Building about the future of the nursing profession.


High health care costs, medical mistakes and a shortage of primary care doctors all signal the need for change, she said.


“We need to redesign how health care is delivered and organized,” Bednash said. “It’s important to think about the coordination of care across systems.”


Nurses, especially nurse practitioners need to step up and help fill the gap left by the primary care doctor shortage, she said.


Bednash said that for too long, people in health care have worried about getting more nurses into the workforce when they should have focused on the kind of skills nurses are learning. Baccalaureate prepared nurses have demonstrated lower patient morbidity and mortality rates in hospitals than non-baccalaureate nurses, for example. If more nurses receive master’s and doctoral degrees, they can do a better job of improving health care and teaching, she added.


Less than one percent of all nurses in the United States have doctoral degrees.


Also at the event, the School of Nursing announced winners of its Dean Hern Teaching and Research Awards. The 2009 recipients were Marianne Hutti, PhD, ARNP for teaching and Cynthia Logsdon, DNS, WHNP-BC, FAAN for research; 2010 recipients are Carla Hermann, PhD, RN for teaching and Diane Chlebowy, PhD, RN for research.


National Nurses Week is May 6-12.

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