Aiken presents nursing leaders with a vision for healthcare

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Linda Aiken presents nursing leaders with a vision for healthcare

Published: April 25, 2013.

Dr. Linda H Aiken discusses healthcare reform
and the future of healthcare.

Dr. Linda H Aiken, PhD, RN, FAAN, FRCN, recently discussed healthcare reform and the future of healthcare to an audience of chief nursing officers and Lewis University faculty and graduate nursing students at the Lewis University Oak Brook Campus. The director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research drew upon her passion and experience working at the federal level on healthcare reform for the Clinton administration to address the current state of U.S. healthcare.

Full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2014, commonly known as Obamacare, will extend health insurance to more than 30 million Americans who are currently uninsured or underinsured. The nationís current healthcare workforce, practicing under prevailing regulations and legal scope of practice restrictions, will be hard pressed to provide reasonable access to care for current and new patients. While the Affordable Care Act will mandate insurance coverage for everyone, it has not addressed the current healthcare system and how it can meet the new demands. There is increased interest among health workforce policymakers and planners in strategies that would increase the production and effective practice of non-physician providers, especially advanced practice nurses, in order to improve access to affordable and appropriate care.

The 2010 Institute of Medicine Future of Nursing Recommendations proposed that the number of nurses with a bachelorís degree in nursing increase to 80 percent by the year 2020 and those with a doctorate should double. Mortality rates have declined in hospitals with staffs holding a higher level of nursing education. Dr. Aiken addressed some of the challenges that faculty will face in increasing the production of Advance Practice Registered Nurses. There currently is not enough capacity for nursing schools to meet the new demands for APRNs. She sees better participation by the community colleges in meeting these needs.

Dr. Aiken looked at some of the historic changes that have occurred in nursing, such as the practice of nurse midwives, as well as some of the newer models in healthcare, such as the move to take care of patients in their homes immediately following an illness or surgical procedure. She discussed challenges and potential solutions. Trends in demographics have also influenced marketplace needs such as the rise of retail clinics at Walgreens, and the baby boomer generation exerting national influence through organizations such as AARP. She believes that many of the more recent changes in the ability of nurses to lead healthcare reform have been due to the needs and influence of these external stakeholders. Her presentation concluded with a discussion of opportunities for nurses to influence the evolution of innovations in healthcare delivery that could substantially improve access to and quality of healthcare in the future.

A link to the entire presentation on video is available at

Dr. Aiken is the director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research and The Claire M. Fagin Leadership Professor of Nursing and Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Dr. Aiken conducts research on the healthcare workforce and quality of healthcare in the U.S. and globally. She co-directs RN4CAST, a European Union funded study of nurse workforce and quality of care in 12 European countries, China, and South Africa. Her funded NIH research has received numerous awards including the Individual Codman Award from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations for leadership utilizing performance measures to demonstrate relationships between nursing care and patient outcomes. She was honored with the Academy Health Distinguished Investigator Award, the William B. Graham Prize for Health Services Research, and the Episteme Award from Sigma Theta Tau International. Dr. Aiken is a former President of the American Academy of Nursing, Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing, a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has a bachelorís degree in nursing and masterís degree in nursing from the University of Florida, Gainesville and a doctorate in sociology from the University of Texas, Austin.

Lewis University is a Catholic university offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 6,500 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report.

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