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Nurses Come Together to Advance Nursing in Wisconsin

WCN President Ann Cook and WNA President Carolyn Krause welcomed 229 nurses from all corners of our state to “The IOM Report: Building the Future of Nursing in Wisconsin.” This full day event was held at the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells, and sponsored by the Wisconsin Center for Nursing, in partnership with the Wisconsin Nursing Coalition.

The event marked the inaugural effort by WCN to develop a statewide plan for implementation of the 2010 Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report: The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health in Wisconsin. In attendance were over 200 nurses from diverse settings at all levels of practice, includingducators representing 24 baccalaureate and associate degree nursing programs. 
The conference highlighted several key messages from the IOM Report, and the conference objectives were firmly grounded in the mission of WCN to “assure an adequate, well-prepared and diverse nurse workforce for Wisconsin.”

Keynote speaker Peter Buerhaus, PhD, RN, FAAN, presented “The Future of the Nursing Workforce:  Data, Trends, Quality, Economics & Public Policy.” Buerhaus, internationally known for his research in the nursing workforce, is currently the Valere Potter Professor of Nursing and Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies in the Institute for Medicine and Public Health at Vanderbilt University. He has been named chair of the National Health Care Workforce Commission, a 15 member panel comprised of distinguished leaders from academia and the health care industry created under The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

In his presentation, Dr. Buerhaus included key demographic trends underlying the RN workforce, the implications of an aging workforce in tandem with the economic recession, and the quality of care that is associated with nurses. He challenged every organization to accurately assess its workforce and develop meaningful plans for accommodating older RNs with improved ergonomics and schedules, opportunities for mentorship and residencies, creating room for new graduates, and programs to educate staff on the implications of health reform and the need for economic accountability.

Dr. Buerhaus concluded with a call to nurses to embrace the IOM Report and “step it up, participate and lead the change” to become part of the solution and transformation that will be necessary for both the future of nursing and healthcare in this country.

   The second speaker of the morning was Ellen K. Murphy, MS, JD, FAAN, Professor Emerita, UW-Milwaukee College of Nursing. Murphy holds a Juris Doctor degree as a cum laude graduate of the UW-Madison Law School. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, International Nursing Honor Society and Phi Kappa Phi, National Honor Society and a vast number of scholarly journal articles on the legal aspects of the scope of nursing practice. The prestigious “Ellen K. Murphy Public Policy Award” at the UWM College of Nursing was created to recognize her and the contributions she has made to nursing.
Murphy’s presentation, “Scope of Practice and What It Means for Wisconsin Nursing’s Future,” focused on the rules and regulations that govern nursing practice in Wisconsin. She encouraged participants to consider the IOM recommendations as a whole, with statutes and administrative regulations acting as the foundation for scope of nursing practice. Expanding the scope of practice requires political savvy and strategy, including influential components that are ‘non-law’ factors. Murphy encouraged the use of broad statutory language to give directionut not limitation and she advised, “Sometimes law leads, but sometimes it follows” the scope of nursing practice.

Both presenters recommended that nurses adopt a “coalition approach” in order to be full partners to transform nursing and redesign healthcare. Nurses need a larger cadref leaders to advance the necessary changes, and utilize many stakeholders to act on behalf of our profession, from both nursing and non-nursing entities. 

Participants reported they received a “tremendous amount of useful information” on this “important day” at the conference. Archived videotapes of the keynote presentations are available for your viewing at if you were unable to attend the event, and please share this link with your colleagues.  A short survey follows the video; thank you for taking this survey after viewing the presentations to help us evaluate the program.

The afternoon of the conference was devoted to facilitated regional activities for IOM implementation using the Appreciative Inquiry Model in an effort to begin developing action plans for the state of Wisconsin. Appreciative Inquiry methodology was chosen as a format because it has as its foundation the application of sharing a common vision based on positive attributes to lead to inspired action. Every voice can participate and influence agreements about decisions for the future.  Participants used the SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results) acronym to guide these brainstorming sessions to unleash the positive potential during this time of transformation and change in nursing and healthcare.

Conference participants were assigned to the breakout sessions according to one of four quadrants of the state they represented, and joined together at tables comprised of both academic and practice partners from within their regions. The groups compiled cursory action plans based on the key messages from the IOM that were meaningful to their own regional interests and needs, and these were reported out to the general assembly at the end of the day. The sessions were filled with enthusiasm and energy in planning for exciting possibilities for the future of nursing in Wisconsin. In the words of one participant, “This was really a wonderful opportunity to share this day with others across the state. These are amazing professionals with strength to work together to achieve exceptional outcomes.”

The Wisconsin Center for Nursing is planning to schedule ongoing regional meetings to further develop the action plans for implementation of IOM recommendations initiated in the regional breakout sessions. WCN also looks forward to bringing you more events in the future as we work together to advance this important endeavor for nursing in Wisconsin. If you are interested in participating in IOM activities in our state, call 414-801-NURS (6877).

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