Education, Tip of the Week

What Can Nurses Do to Optimize Their Role in Health Care?

All across the country, there are thousands of nursing schools offering accelerated nursing programs to students – perhaps too many to choose from.  How can they decide what program will present an innovative approach, yet maintain the original focus of nursing?  Nursing is defined as the “protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and population” (American Nurses Association, 2014).

Taking Steps to Focus

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) was created over 40 years ago to improve health care and address significant health issues in American society.  In 2005, the RWJF turned its focus on the role of nurses in health care. The foundation funded an organization dedicated to supplying future nurses with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to advance the quality and safety of their work environment.

This organization was known as QSEN – Quality and Safety Education for Nurses.  Between 2005 and the present day, QSEN has continued to improve its bank of resources and practices in a number of phases:

Phase I (2005-2007)

Phase 1

Project initiatives were put into place.  The biggest areas for improvement were narrowed down to:

  • Patient-centered care
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Quality improvement
  • Safety
  • Informatics

Phase II (2007-2009)

Principal investigator Linda Cronenwett received $1,094,477 from the RWJF to fund Phase II of the QSEN project. Partnership between designated members of organizations that represent advanced practice nurses was instituted to work along with 15 pilot schools committed to actively engage in curricular change to incorporate quality and safety competencies. Phase 2

Phase III (2009-2012)

The University of North Carolina School of Nursing and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) collaborated to develop the faculty expertise necessary to teach these competencies in nursing textbooks, licensing accreditation, and certification standards.  Toward the end of Phase III, the UNC School of Nursing designed a QSEN Forum that is implemented annually to attract innovators and nursing faculty leaders to continue improve the process.

Phase 3

Phase IV (2012-present)

The press release for Phase IV revolved around a new Program Supports Institute of Medicine (IOM) placing an emphasis on nurses attaining their advanced degrees to improve patient care and to further develop nursing roles in health care.  According to the Senior Advisor for Nursing for RWJF,

“We are pleased to be able to provide financial support to some of the Action Coalitions working on academic progression. We are confident that the new models they create will be replicable and help achieve our goal to have 80 percent of the nursing workforce be prepared at the baccalaureate level or higher by 2020. Advancing a more highly educated, diverse workforce is essential to achieving the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s mission to improve health and health care in this country” (Hassmiller, 2012).

Phase 4Recently, a new QSEN initiative was introduced under the guidance of the faculty at Case Western Reserve University.  Nursing students now have access to QSEN resources and teaching strategies without the need for a creating an account and additional login information.  There are now less steps to take for students to benefit from learning modules and videos with up-to-date strategies for improving their skills.  The benefit of these modules is that nursing students can develop the skills essential for patient safety, for example, while learning the value of technology in a work setting.

What Does the Future of Nursing Look Like?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a need for more than 580,000 new and replacement registered nurses by the year 2018 (AACN, 2013).  It is imperative that these efforts to maintain integrity, quality, and innovation in nursing education are continued to accommodate the needs of our aging population.


Sponsored by RISC Management and Consulting, LLC

RWJF video

Quality and Safety Education for nurses video


American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2013). Accelerated Programs: The fast track to careers in nursing. Retrieved from

Hassmiller, S. (2012). QSEN press release: Phase IV. Retrieved from

Quality and Safety Education for Nurses. (2014). QSEN Institute. Retrieved from

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (2014). Building a culture of health: Annual president’s message. Retrieved from




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