Message from the Leadership – July 2023: Our SUPERPOWER! Partnering to Solve the Nursing Shortage

July 1, 2023

Dear OADN Members,

We’ve all heard it. We all live it. There are simply not enough nurses to go around, here in the United States, and around the world. We need to graduate greater numbers of safe new nurses. We need more faculty, clinical learning spaces, preceptors, simulation capability, student support services, financial support for students, and sometimes we don’t even have enough students to fill our programs, especially in rural areas. The “we need” list can seem endless.

But! Nurse heroes have a special superpower! Nurses know how to solve big problems, whether it’s a critically ill patient or a critically ill healthcare system. We team up! We advocate for our patient/healthcare system, call in experts across various fields, create the plan, organize the team, and make sure that the problems are getting solved.

The nursing shortage is a problem for everyone. Nursing education is a solution. Nurse educators are not the only ones to develop the means to the end. Nursing education needs to be supported to fix this by those who are also affected by the problem. The nursing shortage can only be solved by education partnering with industry, regulators, economic development, accreditation agencies, government at the local, county, state, national and Tribal levels, policy makers, diverse stakeholders, and internationally interested parties.

This is where OADN comes in, which is one of the reasons I’m writing this message to you. I am honored to serve on the OADN Board of Directors as the At-Large Director, meaning that I aim to bring a nationwide perspective to represent the interests of Associate Degree Nursing (ADN). I came to this role via a unique path as someone charged with partnering to fix nursing shortages in my state. As COVID descended upon us, I reached out to OADN for assistance from nursing education leaders in other states on how we were going to continue graduating new nurses in such a challenging time. OADN was extremely helpful in bringing together a team to work on the problem together, through the OADN National COVID Task Force. OADN is continuing to help nursing education through national and international partnerships to build the nursing workforce via educational pathways.

Partnerships are the way to go. In Minnesota, we have developed the Coalition for Nursing Equity and Excellence (CNEE). The CNEE does not supplant the work that is already happening, we organize it and support the work. We bring together all the aforementioned stakeholders to partner in our efforts, rather than duplicating initiatives. We aim to solve the nursing workforce shortage in our state.

OADN understands this and partners for Associate Degree Nursing on a national scale to advocate for community college nursing education and the ADN pathway. Plus, OADN provides you with a wealth of resources! Did you see the information about the work of the National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing, of which OADN is an inaugural partner and key leader addressing DEI in nursing? Did you know that OADN is partnered with 62 other nursing and nursing-related organizations through the Nursing Community Coalition to support federal legislation on preventing workplace violence and stabilizing the nursing workforce? Or how about the formal partnership between OADN and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) to strengthen the support network for ADN programs and their students in communities across the country. OADN has collaborated with the ACEN on numerous initiatives for many years to develop joint programming that supports our members throughout every stage of the accreditation process. You can learn more about this important collaboration and others at Partners – OADN

Make sure that your state has a group of people who are working together across education, industry, policymakers, governments at all levels, regulators, and stakeholders to reimagine nursing education differently. Join that group. And if you don’t have a group like that, reach out to OADN and we will help you find your people to build your partnerships.

“We all know the truth: More connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers.” ~ Black Panther, “Black Panther

Thank you,

Jennifer Eccles, PhD, MSN, MEd, RN, FAADN
Director, At-Large – OADN Board of Directors