The end of 2022 is quickly approaching, and it has been a year since I wrote my first message as the chair of the National League for Nursing (NLN). A quick review of prior topics clearly reflects the challenges encountered throughout our postpandemic era. Hopefully, these messages serve to encourage and inspire you to actively engage in creative thinking and reimagine, redesign, and reengineer viable solutions to address the acute and long-term systemic problems plaguing our profession. Change, real change, requires the collective actions of a cohesive profession committed to a shared vision to create the preferred future for nursing. “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” (Albert Einstein).
One of the greatest challenges facing nurse educators is the rapid pace of change. The ability to adapt and respond requires reflexive leadership to co-create and shape the future through the collective action of key stakeholders. We need leaders who encourage and enable us to embrace and share in the development of a preferred future. The NLN is the leader to promote excellence in nursing education. As noted in our mission statement, we are dedicated to building a strong and diverse workforce to advance the health of our nation and the global community. Our mission is guided by four core values: caring, integrity, diversity and inclusion, and excellence. I have had the honor and privilege to observe how these core values, in alignment with our strategic goals, are carried out in tremendous accomplishments under the direction and leadership of our visionary president and CEO, and American Nurses Association living legend, Dr. Beverly Malone.
One of the greatest challenges facing nurse educators is the rapid pace of change. The ability to adapt and respond requires reflexive leadership to co-create and shape the future through the collective action of key stakeholders. We need leaders who encourage and enable us to embrace and share in the development of a preferred future.
It is not possible to address the extensive list of NLN initiatives in this column, but as I reflect on the challenges encountered in 2022, I believe it is important to highlight and applaud the League’s strong leadership and responsiveness to the needs of our members. The rich resources and opportunities offered by the NLN are accessible on our updated website at NLN.org.
The future of the nursing workforce is dependent on the dedicated efforts and work of qualified nurse educators responsible for the preparation of a diverse, culturally competent, and outstanding nursing workforce. In recognition of the essential role of nursing education during the pandemic, and in celebration of our historic and continuing inspiration to nurses everywhere, the NLN proclaimed 2022 as the Year of the Nurse Educator. Check out the website while it is available, www.yearofnurseeducators.org.
Lessons learned over the past two years have been painful but valuable. The inequities in our health care system have been made visible, providing us with transformational opportunities essential to advancing the future of nursing education, practice, and regulation. As a member of the Tri-Council of Nurses — along with the American Nurses Association, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the American Organization for Nursing Leadership, and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing — we work collectively to address major issues facing nursing. Last year, the Tri-Council identified six themes (equity and health equity, ethics, nursing workforce, innovation, interprofessional emergency planning and response, and mental health and well-being) and 22 topics representing the most critical areas for innovation and provided a framework for collaboration to transform the nursing profession and health care for the future. The resulting document, “Transforming Together: Implications and Opportunities From the COVID-19 Pandemic for Nursing Education, Practice, and Regulation,” is online at https://tricouncilfornursing.org/publications. I encourage you to review the collective responses of these influential organizations.
An active voice and presence in the public policy arena are essential to shaping and influencing policy that affects nursing. The NLN maintains strong government relations with a focus on national health and the economic environment. Current policy priorities are focused on access, education, diversity, and workforce. Members are encouraged to use the information and resources provided on the NLN Advocacy Action Center at https://www.nln.org/public-policy/advocacy-action-center to take an active role in addressing policy issues facing our profession.
When events or situations threaten the health and safety of our nation, the NLN is poised to release timely position statements. On November 9, 2021, we published the NLN Value Statement on Workforce Demands of the Future: The Educational Imperative in response to the nursing shortage, listing planned action steps to support nursing education. In this document, we called on Congress for further support to avert a national health crisis. The NLN also took a stand on Promoting a Just Culture Approach With Health Care Errors in response to the criminalization of medical errors, which threatens honest reporting and further jeopardizes health outcomes. In addition, we called for action, Decrying Senseless Gun Violence, to combat a rising public health crisis.
This past year, the NLN has taken a leading role in addressing environmental health, decarbonization, and the impact on overall well-being with the launch of two resource centers. The Climate Resource Center offers members access to resources and events focused on the impact of climate change. Nurses and educators are called on to help mitigate the health threats posed by the ongoing effects of climate change. The Nurses and Nurse Educators Well-Being Resource Center recognizes burnout and threats to the mental health of nurses and educators nationwide. The health of our nation depends on a healthy and vibrant group of nurses and educators.
This review would be incomplete if I did not note the NLN’s strong commitment to promoting health equity and social justice for all people, regardless of background. The NLN and Walden University College of Nursing opened an Institute for Social Determinants of Health and Social Change to develop future leaders who can address the impact of structural racism and inequities to promote health and well-being.
These examples are only a small sample of NLN actions, responsiveness, and resources available to NLN members. The NLN envisions a stronger, more agile, more diverse nursing workforce of the future prepared by advanced practice nurse educators and expert clinicians. Nurse educators are the foundation and the pillars of nursing education and are instrumental in designing the framework for quality programs that prepare nurses with the skills required to provide for the complex health care needs of a diverse global population.
The NLN, the leader in nursing education, is positioned to lead the advancement of nursing education and assessment, leadership development, research, simulation, and the preparation of certified advanced practice nurse educators. Our postpandemic response to how we reorganize the new realities of health care, nursing, and the preparation of our future workforce requires a transformative perspective to break down barriers, challenge long-held assumptions, and be a force for positive disruption. The year 2022 has presented us with challenges. Let’s celebrate in our responses and look forward to new opportunities in 2023.