Happy New Year and welcome to 2016! I hope everyone had a delightful holiday season filled with family, friends, good blessings and much needed relaxation. For me, with every New Year there is a time of reflection from the previous year and a renewal of energy for what lies ahead. This year is no exception. I think back over the past year and feel a true sense of good fortune as I have been afforded the opportunity to be OADN’s first CEO, and represent associate degree nursing and you at an extremely important time in the history of nursing. As a result, I am excited about the future and will attempt to share my thoughts with you.
In 2010 with the release of the Institute of Medicine’s report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health there was a certain amount of controversy and concern for associate degree nursing education. Many had the perception that the report was devaluing associate degree nursing education. The point of my message is not to review the report of 2010, but to focus on Assessing Progress of the IOM Report: The Future of Nursing and the Impact Study that was released one short month ago. I spent four days during that time period in Washington, DC and attended the Future of Nursing’s Campaign for Action meeting. Although I think many of us would have relished the idea of some additional strategic directions for associate degree nursing programs, the report continued to clearly emphasizes the strong need and importance of associate degree nursing programs in this country. There is no denying that associate degree programs add to the diversity of the nursing workforce and rural America would be lost without these programs. For many, it is the beginning pathway to advanced nursing education. It is stated in the report; “Minority and disadvantaged students utilize associate’s degree programs, baccalaureate completion programs, and community colleges to enter and advance in the field of nursing. Even as the profession pursues the goal of an 80 percent baccalaureate-trained workforce, these pathways will remain important for maintaining or increasing the diversity of the nursing workforce.”
Additionally, a conclusion of the report stated, “New models of education, such as partnerships between community colleges and 4-year universities, show promise for increasing the percentage of baccalaureate prepared nurses.” This is a crucial statement for OADN and the future of associate degree nursing. This is an extraordinary time in the history of nursing education and we have the opportunity to take the lead. Associate degree programs are essential, and we can make a difference. It is truly a time of transformative change. There are many innovative models of associate degree programs and baccalaureate programs partnering for the benefit and success of students. I realize at times there are challenges to partnerships. However, if one partnership is not the answer there will be another on the horizon. Associate degree nursing education is vital to the future nursing workforce. Be bold; think creatively, even if it means thinking about a new partner. OADN is a willing to assist you in this endeavor, as we share in this very important work to preserve the associate degree nursing pathway. IF we take the lead, we will have the opportunity to assure the future of associate degree nursing.
It is interesting that the 2016 OADN convention theme is leadership and interprofessional collaboration. You will be hearing more next month about some of our interprofessional initiatives and activities. This is an exciting year for OADN as we celebrate our 30th anniversary. What better to celebrate than to be where it all began in the great state of Texas? Begin planning now to join us in Dallas November 4 – 6, 2016.
I hope each of you will join with me in your own way as we take the lead. I wish the best to each of you in 2016!