Encouraging Innovation in Texas Nursing Education.
Carole McKenzie and Kammie Monarch attended a Texas Board of Nurse Examiners workshop on September 25, 2008 in Austin, Texas entitled, "Encouraging Innovation in Texas Nursing Education."
Several key points were made in a day filled with multiple speakers from across Texas, nurse consultants at the BON as well as the executive director of the Texas Nurses Association (TNA) and the Director of Education at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).
The day focused on Innovation and innovative programs that are focused on improving the nursing shortage by utilizing concepts of innovation. Texas has had good support from the governor and their legislature in addressing these concerns and the governor's task force has worked hand in hand with several health care coalitions in the state that included the BON as well as TNA and key constituents.
The Board of Nurse Examiners also emphasized that they are willing to approve pilots and experimental programs and that innovation should be discouraged by board rules and regulations. Application may be made to the BON to gain approval for such pilots.
NCSBN has been tracking innovation across many states and discussed programs such as nurse internships, the Oregon Consortium; dedicated education units; funding to increase faculty preparation; partnerships with clinical agencies, partnerships to change policies, and plans to build capacity by focusing on faculty shortages and salaries. Maryland has levied a 0.1% sate levy on regulated patient revenue from all hospitals in the state to generate grants and increases in faculty salaries.
Several directors of programs in Texas discussed partnerships, and other ideas that are being used to increase innovation. Simulation was discussed as well as utilizing faculty from other disciplines, sharing resources and developing partnerships.
One of the biggest ideas that came out of the workshop was creating new partnerships, particularly regionally, and looking for new ways to teach and recruit students as well as increasing faculty capacity. It is clear that we will never be able to increase salaries or find the resources that we need to pilot new ideas and programs if we do not have partnerships with clinical facilities, educational entities, industry and our legislature.
We must develop those partnerships and "throw off" all of our old ideas and pre-conceptions. It also is clear that every Board of Nursing must be open to pilot programs and innovative ideas that will assist us with our shortages, recruitment and faculty salaries and access, not only for students but to have adequate faculty. Simulation has to be figured differently into the equation. And any type of regional activity that benefits our students and faculty is critical. But one of the clearest messages of this conference was engaging the legislature to understand not only the issues involved but the need to actually fund them.
What a concept!! We must looking at ways to generate income for programs to grow and to fund faculty at salaries that actually encourage them to teach and supports their worth. We have a mandate to lobby harder than ever with our legislators and other elected officials to understand what we are fighting and the need to be aggressive has never been more needed.
by Carole McKenzie, PhD, CNM, RN Associate Professor and Chair, Nursing Division, Northwestern Oklahoma State University