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Three Nurses Elected to IOM Share Their Priorities

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By Debra Wood, RN, contributor

November 8, 2013 - The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has elected three distinguished nursing leaders--Susan Hassmiller, Beverly Malone and Bernadette Melnyk--to join the more than 1,900 men and women who give of their time and share their knowledge to improve the nation’s health.

The three 2013 RNs elected represent the most nurses asked to serve in any given year since 1996 and bring a total of 65 nurses who actively participate in the institute’s work addressing the nation’s pressing health concerns. Additionally, 14 nurses have served as members in the past.

The IOM elected 70 new members in 2013, using a selective process that recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health.

“It is an honor to welcome our highly distinguished colleagues to the Institute of Medicine,” said IOM President Harvey V. Fineberg, in a statement. “These individuals have inspired us through their achievements in research, teaching, clinical work and other contributions to the medical field. Their knowledge and skills will deeply enrich the IOM.”

The 2013 inductees shared with NurseZone their perspectives about the election, their experiences with the IOM and their priorities as members of the esteemed organization, which serves to help government and the private sector make informed health decisions based on evidence.

Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, senior adviser for nursing and director of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, N.J.
Hassmiller served as study director for the IOM’s Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health report and educated members about nursing through site visits and other activities.

Susan Hassmiller was study director of IOM's Future of Nursing report.
Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, plans to work on “the role of nursing in creating a more effective and efficient health system and nurses' role in keeping people healthy.”

“The report has garnered a lot of attention, not only for the report but the IOM,” said Hassmiller, who considers the opportunity to serve an honor.

“I’m happy to have been elected to the IOM for the sake of nursing and how nursing might be represented and the opportunity to keep our work at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation front and center. The institute’s annual Rosenthal lecture, this year, will explore the legacy of the Future of Nursing report and how it is being implemented in the practice settings. For instance, Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has incorporated the recommendations into its five-year plan, and the American Nurses Credentialing Center now requires Magnet applicants to provide a plan for increasing baccalaureate-prepared nurses.

“The report has taken on a life of itself,” Hassmiller said. “I hear all of the time what the impact of this report has been, not only for organizations but for people.”

Nurses tell Hassmiller how the report has inspired them to return to school for additional degrees. Hassmiller added that the recommendation for increasing the number of BSN-prepared nurses has gained the most traction, citing an American Association of Colleges of Nursing report indicating that RN-to-BSN enrollment increased by 22 percent from 2011 to 2012. Many associate-degree graduates tell her they are ready to continue on for their BSN.

“That’s new, and that’s exciting,” said Hassmiller, who continues to focus on academic progression. The foundation will give scholarships to nurses interested in pursing PhD degrees.

“From big organizations to hospital systems to individuals, I am heartened to hear how the IOM report has driven change,” said Hassmiller, adding that transformation is not limited to the United States. A nurse from Beirut told her at a recent conference how nursing has changed in Lebonon due to the IOM report.

While working on the Future of Nursing initiative, Hassmiller researched what would make a successful outcome, wanting to make sure the IOM report would be used, not put on a shelf. She held nationally visible town hall meetings during the commission’s work to bring attention to the pending report and to bounce ideas off of people and engage them. She used social media and publications to build interest.

“When the report came out, people’s appetites were hungry for the recommendations,” Hassmiller said. “People were anxious to do something.”

From that came the Campaign for Action to implement the recommendations in all 50 states. This year, the campaign and Hassmiller will work on leadership and increasing the number of nurses serving on hospital and health system boards of directors.

Hassmiller considers her election to the IOM an extension of the report and its call for nurses to be full partners with physicians in helping to transform the health care system, creating solutions for how care might be delivered in a more effective way, and keeping people healthy.

“Nurses are essential partners,” Hassmiller said. “We have solutions and understand health and health care issues.”

As a member of the IOM, Hassmiller will continue to work on “the role of nursing in creating a more effective and efficient health system and nurses’ role in keeping people healthy.”

Beverly Louise Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN, CEO, National League for Nursing in Washington, D.C.
Malone reviewed the Future of Nursing report before publication. She has made quality, safety and leadership a key priority, as has the IOM.

Beverly Malone will work to ensure a diverse nursing workforce while at IOM.
Beverly Louise Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN, plans to ensure a diverse workforce is included in planning for health care in the future.

“IOM is a place where health care decisions are made,” Malone said. “When information comes out from our colleagues at the IOM, it is looked at with appreciation, with an acknowledgement that this is well done, supported by data and something we need to look at.”

Malone feels honored she will be at the table when discussions take place about health care quality and safety.

“[Nurses] care so much about our patients,” Malone said. “We need to be present and visible and making a contribution. We see patients in a different way than other providers.”

Malone indicated she is not a quiet person and will be present, visible, appropriately verbal and involved in the work, sharing the nursing perspective.

“You need leadership for any transformation,” Malone said. “Health care needs to be transformed to a better system for quality, safety and interprofessional interplay among providers. Nursing is used to being a team player.”

Malone suggested that there is room for more nurses to become leaders and participate. “Part of my responsibility is to make more room,” she said. “Once getting there, I need to go about the business of helping others get there.”

Malone also has served on the Advisory Committee on Minority Health, a federal panel that advises the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. Her involvement with that, the International Council of Nurses Education Network and the NLN Academy of Nursing Education highlight her commitment to prepare a diverse nursing workforce, something she will continue to work on at the IOM.

“It’s about diversity of nurses and other health care people being there and verbal about how health care is delivered to the under-represented,” Malone said. “Any issues [the IOM] deals with, I want to make sure there is some level of involvement that addresses not having a diverse workforce. And there is room for nurses from under-represented populations to join me.”

The country is becoming more diverse, and Malone said, “It’s about the people we serve.”

Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, PhD, RN, FNAP, FAANP, FAAN, associate vice president for health promotion; university chief wellness officer; dean and professor, College of Nursing; and professor of pediatrics and psychiatry, College of Medicine, Ohio State University in Columbus. Melnyk has reviewed prior IOM reports.

Bernadette Melnyk will focus on evidence-based health care and health promotion at IOM.
Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, PhD, RN, FNAP, FAANP, FAAN, plans to focus on evidence-based health care, quality of services and physical and mental health promotion.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to the IOM and all of [its] fantastic work,” Melnyk said. “I want to be an active member of the Institute of Medicine.”

Melnyk has several areas of expertise associated with evidence-based practice, improving quality of care and child and adolescent mental health, and prevention and healthy lifestyles.

“Nursing is such an integral piece of improving health and health care across the nation and the globe,” Melnyk said. “Our perspectives are critically important.”

As for evidence-based health care, Melnyk plans to champion ways to bring findings from scientific studies into the clinical setting. She has served on an IOM roundtable on evidence-based practice. v“We have to speed up that translation of research findings to improve outcomes,” she said. “We have to stop falling into the tradition of ‘That’s the way we do it.’ We need good strong advocacy to accelerate this movement to reverse these health care trends.”

Melnyk pointed out the disparity between what the United States spends on health care and the country not being at the top of the outcomes rankings.

“There is so much work to be done; we need to put a sense of urgency on this,” Melnyk said. “We have so much knowledge from research. We have to translate it more quickly into health care settings.”

That’s one of her goals at IOM, which has set a goal of 90 percent of health care decisions being evidence-based by 2020.

“I see this as a huge opportunity to further contribute to the health and health care of this country, because the IOM carries so much authority, expertise and advice to policy makers and the public,” Melnyk said. “To be an integral part of the Institute of Medicine and put forward and participate in initiatives critical to our country improving its state of affairs is very, very exciting.”

Related articles:
Why More Nurses Should Hold Hospital Leadership Roles
Increasing Cultural Competence in Nursing 

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