Inside Syllabus: Q&A with Kate Judge

Inside this Syllabus Edition:

  • Call for Nominations for Board of Directors and Nominating Committee
  • AACN Introduces New Dean Mentoring Program
  • Dr. Rhoberta Haley Elected to AACN Board of Directors
  • Q&A with Kate Judge, American Nurses Foundation
  • American Academy of Nursing to Honor AACN Leaders
  • Upcoming Conferences and More! 

Read the Full Syllabus Newsletter Here

Kate JudgeAbout Kate Judge, Executive Director, American Nurses Foundation

Kate Judge has more than 30 years of leadership experience in the areas of healthcare and non-profit communication, resource generation, and management. Her work has supported large and small organizations in education, health care, and human service within the United States and abroad. Since 2012, she has been the executive director of the American Nurses Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American Nurses Association and American Nurses Credentialing Center. The Foundation, one of the first to invest in nursing research, now has a diverse program portfolio focusing on the health of nurses and the impact on patients, leadership development, health policy, and elevating the image of nurses. As executive director, she helped launch the national Nurses on Boards Coalition in 2015 and the national Healthy Nurse Healthy Nation campaign. She also served as executive producer for Defining Hope, a 2017 documentary about end of life and the unique expertise of nurses. Prior to leading the Foundation, she served as assistant dean at both University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing and School of Veterinary Medicine. She has also directed development and communications at the American Red Cross in Southeastern Pennsylvania and the affiliate/national coordinated fundraising at the national Red Cross organization in Washington, DC. 

Q&A with Kate Judge

What are the funding priorities for the American Nurses Foundation?

Our funding priorities are focused on making changes in health care and the profession. We’ve historically been known for funding nursing research. We began expanding the focus when I joined the organization and now the Foundation funds projects that address long-standing challenges in the profession. Examples include better preparing nursing students to enter the profession, driving technology that truly helps nurses provide excellent care and new models of care delivery that provide payment for nursing care. Additionally, the Foundation funds programs and projects that help support nurses’ well-being and health and new research.

What are some of the Foundation’s signature programs?

The Foundation has a wide variety of programs that are assisting nurses in their daily lives as well as helping to promote innovative work currently being achieved by nurses in this country. Two specific programs that come to mind are the Foundation’s new Stress and Burnout Prevention program and the Reimagining Nursing Initiative (RNI). The Stress and Burnout Prevention program looks at waysto recognize and address stress and burnout in the workplace. We are partnering with four organizations to build a nurse-centered intervention that is especially inclusive of younger nurses and nurses of color’s experiences and needs. The Reimagining Nursing Initiative is a multi-year, multi-grant funded effort. Finally, the Foundation launched the Pulse of the Nation’s Nurses Survey in the early days of the pandemic.

Why is the Pulse on the Nation’s Nurses Survey important to faculty and schools of nursing?

These surveys help to assess the current state of nursing in this country – giving voice to nurses’ needs, experiences, and aspirations. Understanding the experience of graduates – the realities of their lives must be important to educators. Educators want to prepare future nurses for the realities of the current workplace so that they can thrive and take care of all of us. It is critical to nurses’ ability to thrive and have impact.

What was the impetus behind the Reimagining Nursing Initiative(RNI)?

One of our board members, Greg Adams, now the chair and chief executive officer of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Hospitals challenged us to create a program that would drive change in nursing amidst a rapidly changing healthcare environment. This led to convening a small meeting with key stakeholders in California in January 2020. The Foundation sought the most synergistic accelerators for change in the profession. We developed a business plan to fund innovative work and several key funders, most prominently Kaiser Permanente through its Kaiser Permanente National Community Benefit Fund at East Bay Community Foundation, invested in our idea for driving innovation and change.

What has been the response to the RNI and its objectives from the larger nursing community?

The response has been tremendous. The Foundation received more than 340 applications when the Initiative and our new grantmaking was announced. The Foundation received good media coverage, and we are embarking on an effort to reimagine critical care nursing in partnership with Stryker. A critical part of our work will be to hold up the learnings and accomplishments of the project teams we funded in Reimagining Nursing. The ultimate benefit of all this effort is scaling change to those schools and institutions not initially funded.

What is appealing about AACN’s project, which focuses on using competency-based education to prepare more practice-ready nurse graduates?

AACN can change nursing education at its core with the Essentials. Competency-based education is critical to better care; reducing the burden on employers to re-educate new recruits, and ensuring the new nurses have positive experiences as they begin their careers. From new graduates to seasoned nurses, raising the competency of nurses benefits all nurses and translates to better outcomes for patients.

What impact are you hoping to see from the funded initiatives by 2025?

Great ideas explored, tested, and built for scaling, and more investment in nursing innovation and leadership. As our pilots reach their fullest potential to scale and replicate, there will be early adopters and those looking to replicate the ideas and solutions that the initial Reimagining Nursing pilots build. Of course, it would be unrealistic to see wide adoption from day one, and we must rely on our pilots to help show the return on investment from the project and the implications of doing something new and bold.

In your view, what are some of the biggest issues in health care today?

First and foremost, the sustainability of our workforce, which is a combination of having enough nurses and other team members and having a work environment that they want to work in. Another issue is ensuring technology, which actually makes care better and reduces the burden on clinicians. Finally, another key issue is addressing head-on the inequities in care today and the racism that drives suffering in the nursing profession and for patients.

How can nurse leaders, educators, and students engage to address these concerns?

Communicate. It may sound simple, but talk and convene groups of people to talk about the issues and start small. Start at the campus level and speak with nursing students, faculty, and, graduates about their experiences and needs. Try to really reimagine how to educate, who to educate, and where to educate to have the workforce and the profession the world needs. Be bold both about what is needed and what that will cost. Nursing has been underinvested in for far, far too long.

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