Online Nursing Degree Programs: Preparing Nurses for Today’s Healthcare Challenges

By Jean Floten, Chancellor, WGU Washington

The Future of NursingI was honored earlier this month to participate in the Washington Nursing Action Coalition Conference, where I introduced a good friend of the WGU family of online schools, Dr. Linda Burnes-Bolton. She’s the Vice President for Nursing, Chief Nursing Officer, and Director of Nursing Research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and she shared a strong, urgent plea:

Nurses need to play a key collaborative role in driving the future of our healthcare delivery system.

The debate over solutions to our healthcare system may be political, but the need for a collaborative, patient-centered transformation is not.

Dr. Burnes-Bolton’s keynote presentation (PDF), which I urge all nurses – and especially registered nurses continuing their education with our Washington online nursing degree programs – to view, shared the results of a very thoughtful new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” is the most-viewed online report in the history of the IOM.

An important new coalition, the Future of Nursing Campaign for Action, is working to put nurses at the heart of a transformation that goes beyond healthcare and into our communities.

Its vision: All Americans have access to high-quality, patient-centered care in a healthcare system where nurses contribute as essential partners in achieving success.

The campaign has five planks where change is needed – education, practice, collaboration, leadership, and data. I’m so proud of WGU Washington for the role we play in providing flexible, competency-based online degree programs for Washington state. We’re helping to heed the report’s call for more nursing education by giving registered nurses access to continued learning at the BSN and MSN levels.

Education must equip nurses with the tools and skills they need to respond to the growing complexities in healthcare practice and service delivery. It must enable them to be part of community-based care and prepare them to become the nurses who educate future generations of nurses. WGU Washington is playing a critical role in achieving that goal.

The vitally important, remarkably challenging, and endlessly rewarding nursing profession is all about hard work driven by compassion and human caring. The work you do is among the most important in our society, and it’s also unquestionably difficult. Dr. Burnes-Bolton has a tremendous understanding of both the challenges facing our healthcare providers today and the opportunities to face those challenges head-on.

Dr. Burnes-Bolton believes that nurses’ voices are an important part of the total fabric of our communities and that nurses should be on school boards, on nonprofit boards, and in major decision-making roles.

Please do what you can to get involved with the work of this newly formed coalition, and take to heart the important lessons Dr. Burnes-Bolton and our friends at WNAC shared and continue to share with the nursing community.

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