Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN
As the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s senior adviser for nursing and a nurse myself, I am well aware of nurses’ contributions to improving patient care. I also know that nurses have the potential to vastly improve the health and safety of their patients, and their contributions increase if they have more education, autonomy, and support. INQRI developed the rigorous evidence base that supports what I, RWJF’s leaders, and many others have known for years: the link between nursing and high-quality patient care is real and tangible.
The legacy of INQRI includes a lasting impact on RWJF’s nursing work, as well as on health care research, delivery and systems across the country. INQRI studies have informed the work of Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, an important and ambitious national initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation and RWJF to transform health care through nursing. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, which provides the evidence-based recommendations that drive the Campaign, featured the work of three outstanding INQRI teams.
Gerri Lamb, PhD, RN, FAAN and Francois Sainfort, PhD developed a staff nurse care coordination model that features six nurse care coordination activities regularly performed by staff nurses in hospital settings as part of their daily activities.
David Thompson, DNSc, MN, RN, Jill Marsteller, PhD, MPP, and J. Bryan Sexton, PhD conducted the first randomized, controlled clinical trial to reduce central-line-associated blood stream infections among ICU patients. They found that substantial reductions in infections can be widely achieved, especially when nurses lead patient safety efforts.
Linda Flynn, PhD, RN, FAAN and Dong-Churl Suh, PhD linked a core cluster of nurse safety processes to fewer medication errors. Their findings supported the importance of positive work environment on patient outcomes.
After the IOM report was released, the Foundation immediately began focusing on implementation, and we turned to INQRI for the additional evidence we needed to guide that work. We know INQRI is a model in using interdisciplinary research teams to conduct rigorous studies that provide evidence to shape change. We also took a lesson from INQRI’s playbook in launching our state Action Coalitions, requiring them to focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and partnerships to achieve their goals. Now nursing Action Coalition leaders are partnering with other health professionals, consumers, philanthropies, the business community, payers, and government to transform nursing and improve patient care.
INQRI has made truly invaluable contributions to all of this work. Its grantees have demonstrated that nurses are involved at all levels of care and have positive contributions to make in every setting. Because of evidence they provided, we know that a different kind of health care system is possible. It is possible to reduce the number of patients who suffer bloodstream infections or pressure ulcers. It is possible to reduce hospital readmissions and to improve care coordination. It is possible to measure patients’ pain more accurately and treat it more effectively, and it is possible to avoid medication errors.
And now we know that nurses make those things possible. Now, that’s a legacy.
Dr. Hassmiller joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 1997 and is presently the Foundation's senior adviser for nursing. In this role, she shapes and leads the Foundation’s strategies to address nurse and nurse faculty shortages in an effort to create a higher quality of patient care in the United States. Drawn to the Foundation’s “organizational advocacy for the less fortunate and underserved,” Hassmiller is helping to assure that RWJF's commitments in nursing have a broad and lasting national impact.
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