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About the American Association of Colleges of Nursing
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for academic nursing representing more than 850 schools of nursing nationwide. AACN establishes quality standards for nursing education, influences the nursing profession to improve health care, and promotes public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice. 



AACN Releases New Report "Advancing Healthcare Transformation: A New Era for Academic Nursing"

Published March 28, 2016

AACN Releases New Report on Escalating Academic Nursing’s
Impact on Transforming Health and Health Care

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 28, 2016 – The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is pleased to announce the release of a new report titled Advancing Healthcare Transformation: A New Era for Academic Nursing, which addresses how baccalaureate and higher degree schools of nursing can amplify their role in improving health and health care at the local, state, and national levels. Accessible online, this report provides a strategic framework for engaging nursing and medical school deans, health system executives, and university presidents and chancellors in the collaborative work needed to spark clinical innovation, align critical resources, and fortify the public’s health.

“At this pivotal point in our history, academic nursing is ready to take a bold step forward as a full partner in the work to transform healthcare delivery, education, and research,” said Dr. Juliann Sebastian, Chair of the AACN Board of Directors. “This new report serves as a blueprint for strategic action, which will guide our work in enhancing clinical practice, educating professional nurses, collaborating with key stakeholders, strengthening nursing’s research enterprise, and advancing our policy agenda.”    

Since 2013, AACN member deans from Academic Health Centers (AHCs) have engaged in robust discussions regarding the evolving role of nursing schools during a time of healthcare reform. These leaders approached AACN about conducting a formal assessment of the opportunities and challenges ahead for academic nursing. In February 2015, AACN commissioned Manatt Health to complete a national study on optimizing nursing’s role in AHCs, which includes recommendations that all baccalaureate and higher degree schools of nursing can use to move toward long-term success and sustainability. To implement this work, interviews were completed with stakeholders in AHC and non-AHC affiliated institutions; a national summit of AHC leaders was convened in Washington, DC; and two surveys were issued to better determine how academic nursing could make a greater contribution to the larger healthcare system. 

Following an analysis of the data collected, the report authors found that nursing schools affiliated with AHCs were not well positioned as a partner in healthcare transformation. This reality was due largely to having too few nurses serving on governing boards and in clinical leadership positions; being part of organizational structures that do not link academia and practice; and having insufficient numbers of faculty and researchers integrated into affiliated health systems. Other findings show that institutional leaders recognize the need to align more closely with academic nursing and that insufficient resources (i.e. funding, research support, faculty) are a serious barrier to supporting a significantly enhanced role for academic nursing within AHCs. 
Key recommendations from the AACN-Manatt report include that:

  • Academic nursing should be recognized as a full partner in healthcare delivery, education, and research that is integrated and funded across all professions and missions in the academic health system.
  • Nursing faculty should engage more deeply in clinical practice.
  • The pipeline into baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs should be strengthened, including an emphasis on leadership development at all levels.
  • Academic nursing should partner to advance new clinical models and promote accountable care.
  • A greater investment should be made to stimulate nursing research, including closer alignment with research efforts across the health professions.
  • Government support for academic nursing should be expanded, including more funding for nursing research and the removal of regulatory barriers impacting scope of practice.

In addition to 14 real-world examples from nursing schools engaged in best practices, the report features specific implementation strategies for deans of nursing, deans of medicine, health system leaders, and university presidents and chancellors. The report concludes with an Organizational Self-Assessment tool that can be used to determine the degree of alignment that currently exists between healthcare and higher education institutions, which will help to highlight areas where work needs to continue. 

“AACN recognizes that recommendations and lessons learned contained in this report will be important to the full universe of baccalaureate and higher degree nursing programs, not just those located in academic health centers,” added Dr Sebastian.  “We are already hearing that some academic and clinical leaders are taking steps to align their operations with the AACN-Manatt report’s recommendations, which will help to magnify nursing’s impact on transforming health and health care.” 

“AACN is looking forward to working with the full community of stakeholders to disseminate this report widely, assess its long-term outcomes, and assist schools and practice partners as they implement the recommendations,” added Dr. Deborah Trautman, AACN President and CEO. “We are confident that advancing this work will elevate the impact of academic nursing in the healthcare arena and serve the public good.”

Advancing Healthcare Transformation: A New Era for Academic Nursing may be accessed online.