Rounds With Leadership: A Time for Generative Thinking

Published July 31, 2019

Welcome to Rounds with Leadership, a forum for AACN’s Board Chair and President/CEO to offer commentary on issues and trends impacting academic nursing.

July 31, 2019 - A Time for Generative Thinking

According to Dr. Peter J. Dean, leadership guru and executive coach: “Generative thinking involves inventive ways to produce ideas from a board of directors. The board uses these ideas in its leadership role of deciding what to decide. Generative thinking tackles habits of thinking that hold us back from making good strategic decisions.”

Every July, AACN’s Board of Directors hosts a Thought Leaders Assembly to create some dedicated time for generative thinking around issues impacting academic nursing. These events typically include the Board and senior AACN staff as well as invited guests with a strong interest and experience with the issue at hand. This year, the Assembly was held in conjunction with AACN’s Summer Seminar in Portland, Oregon, and we were pleased to welcome the deans and faculty from Oregon Health & Science University, Linfield College, University of Portland, and Concordia University-Portland as well as practice partners from Kaiser Permanente, Salmon Creek Medical Center, and Phoenix Rising Transitions.

The theme for this year’s assembly was Transforming Academic Nursing Through Partnerships and Innovation. For the past two decades, AACN has increasingly focused on the need for nursing education to be innovative and forward-thinking as the profession moves to assume a larger leadership role in shaping the healthcare system and improving health nationally and globally. We recognize in academic nursing that we cannot rise to this challenge without our colleagues in practice as true partners. 

Presentations at this year’s Thought Leaders Assembly, which served as conversation starters, focused on issues related to access to care and the movement of care services into the community. Academic and practice leaders in attendance shared their thoughts on addressing population health through community partnership networks; innovative models for improving healthcare access in rural, frontier, and underserved communities; and fresh approaches to preparing new nurses to serve in community settings, including new curriculum, use of simulation, co-teaching, and Interprofessional Dedicated Education Units (IDEUs).

By sharing examples of innovations, new curricula, practice models, and successful partnerships, our goal was to glean the best thinking from attendees regarding what baccalaureate and graduate nursing education should do to better prepare nursing professionals to meet current and future healthcare needs. Key takeaways from the conversation included:

  • Academic-practice partnerships are foundational to successfully preparing the next generation of nurses. 
  • Collaboration among schools of nursing in states and regions can help to ensure that workforce goals are met.
  • Faculty are essential players in making partnerships work, and we must facilitate more interprofessional and community engagement.
  • More discussion is needed to determine if different competencies are needed to succeed in acute/chronic care and community-based care. 

Threaded across all discussions was a respect for the power of partnerships. Through all of AACN’s work with the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (formerly AONE), the New Era for Academic Nursing report, and our prestigious awards program is the call for academic and practice leaders to work more closely together to better meet the needs of students, providers, and consumers of care. Active engagement in practice ensures that what is taught in schools of nursing appropriately reflects current practice; increases faculty credibility and influence with practice partners; and enhances the relevance, applicability, and implementation of scholarship and research.  Stronger formal and informal collaboration between academia and practice will position nursing as a leader in healthcare delivery.

A final report on the 2019 Thought Leaders Assembly will be released to the AACN membership later this fall.  View more information on AACN’s interprofessional education and academic-practice partner initiatives.