University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Carney and Palumbo to Co-chair RWJ Foundation-funded Nursing Initiative

Jan Carney, M.D., M.P.H, Clinical Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean for Public Health and Mary Val Palumbo, D.N.P., A.P.R.N., Associate Professor of Nursing
Jan Carney, M.D., M.P.H, Clinical Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean for Public Health (left) and Mary Val Palumbo, D.N.P., A.P.R.N., Associate Professor of Nursing (right). (Photos by Raj Chawla, UVM Medical Photography)

In December 2013, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced that Vermont is one of 10 new states to join a $4.5 million initiative called the Future of Nursing State Implementation Program. The Vermont initiative will be co-chaired by Mary Val Palumbo, D.N.P., A.P.R.N., University of Vermont associate professor of nursing and director, and Jan Carney, M.D., M.P.H., professor of medicine and associate dean for public health.

Designed to help states prepare the nursing profession to address the nation’s most pressing health care challenges – access, quality, and cost – the program originally launched with 20 states in February 2013.

The UVM Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Office of Nursing Workforce, which Palumbo directs, along with a broad coalition of stakeholders, including individuals from the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Nursing, will coordinate the Vermont effort. Carney served as co-chair of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Nursing, which produced a recommendation report September 30, 2012.

The State Implementation Program bolsters efforts already under way in 50 states and the District of Columbia – the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action – to improve health and health care through nursing. A joint initiative of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and RWJF, the Campaign is working to implement the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) evidence-based recommendations on the future of nursing. It provides a vehicle for nurses at all levels to lead system change to improve care for patients and families through collaboration with business, consumer, and other health professional organizations.

“We are confident that this grant will help spur progress in Vermont, which already is doing notable work to transform nursing practice, education, and leadership,” says Susan B. Hassmiller, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, RWJF senior adviser for nursing and director of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action. “The Foundation is committed to helping states build a more highly educated, diverse nursing workforce so that everyone in America can live a healthier life, supported by a system in which nurses are essential partners in providing care and promoting health.”

As part of the State Implementation Program, UVM is receiving a two-year, $150,000 grant. Each of the 30 state-based Action Coalitions that have developed or made substantial progress toward implementing the IOM recommendations must obtain matching funds to receive the grant. The Freeman Foundation of Stowe, Vt., is supplying the match for Vermont’s grant.

“The diverse leadership of our Action Coalition and our focus on meaningful outcomes that improve care were key factors in Vermont being selected,” says Palumbo. “We are part of a powerful movement that is improving health care for all Americans. We are grateful to RWJF for this support, which will strengthen our work immeasurably.”

  • Palumbo notes that the state will focus on three primary areas with this grant – nursing leadership, nursing education, and nursing diversity. Specific efforts will include:The leadership initiative will work to ensure greater membership for nurses, with their unique perspective on health and wellness, on committees and boards in Vermont and nationwide involved with health care and health care reform by promoting and making available leadership training and mentoring.
  •  The education initiative plans to increase the proportion of nurses with baccalaureate in nursing degrees (BS or BSN) to 80% by 2022.  The BSN degree enables nurses to work in a greater variety of positions to support public health, and demonstrate greater flexibility of roles in the changing health care workplace.
  •  The third initiative seeks to create greater diversity in the nursing workforce in order to better serve Vermont communities which are experiencing ethnic and cultural changes.

“The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant fits perfectly with the 2012 recommendations of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission,” says Carney. “I look forward to this exciting initiative, and the opportunity to help move this work forward, continuing to contribute my perspective in medicine and public health, as health reform changes are implemented nationally and in Vermont.”

Keep up-to-date on Vermont’s efforts here.

In addition to Vermont, grants announced in December 2013 include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, and Virginia. The 20 states that received grants in February 2013 are: Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

The Center to Champion Nursing in America (CCNA), an initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation, and RWJF, serves as the national program office for the Future of Nursing State Implementation Program.

“This new program will help Action Coalitions get the strategic and technical support required to advance their goals,” says Susan Reinhard, Ph.D., R.N., senior vice president of the AARP Public Policy Institute and chief strategist at CCNA. “Our hope is that with this support, Vermont will be even more effective in improving health outcomes for patients, families, and communities.”

Palumbo also recently received a two-year, $149,966 Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Advanced Nursing Education Grant to increase the percentage of nurses with a baccalaureate degree in Vermont and prepare nurses to lead change to advance health.

(This article was adapted from a press release produced by Meredith Courville, communications advisor for the Future of Nursing™ Campaign for Action.)