Highlights from 2016
From Executive Director Sofia Aragon JD, BSN, RN
Since taking on the role of Executive Director in 2015, the WCN continues to grow and focus on its unique role in Washington’s nursing community: by striving to provide the best available data to inform nursing workforce development, increase opportunities for nursing leadership to influence our rapidly changing health system, and growing a diverse workforce to best serve our communities. As our mission statement says, nurses are the key to a healthier Washington.
As a nonprofit organization, we are continuously recruiting registered nurses and licensed practical nurses who are passionate and committed to a strong nursing workforce to join our board of directors! Please contact me if you are interested or have questions or comments about WCN at SofiaA@WCNursing.org.
We are pleased to share with you the following highlights of our 2016 annual report. Check out a full list of WCN’s accomplishments in 2016 here.
Providing the best available data on the nursing workforce
WCN published the 2016 State Data Snapshots for Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses and Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners, providing trends on based on available licensure data since 2004. We find steady numbers in the registered nurse workforce, a continued decline among licensed practical nurses and an increase among advanced registered nurse practitioners.
Strong data is essential to get ahead of nursing shortages and inform nursing education and policy makers about trends in nursing’s contribution to the health of Washington’s communities. Currently, the only data available are a nurse’s name, mailing address, birthdate and gender included in a Washington state nursing license file to provide the statistics. Because these data are minimal, we are working to adopt the Minimum Nursing Data Set to get a better picture of our workforce. The MDS is used by other state nursing workforce centers to demonstrate the relationship between the health of the population to access to nursing services, to measure whether we are graduating a more diverse workforce, measuring progress towards the Institute of Medicine Future of Nursing goals such as having 80% of registered nurses obtain a BSN, and other goals.
To get a better idea of trends in nursing employment, the WCN worked with the University of Washington Center for Health Workforce Studies and the Health Care Authority to establish a WA Health Workforce Industry Sentinel Network. The goal of the Network is to identify emerging health workforce demand trends among all health professions and rapidly share the information to education and training partners. Highlights of findings to date: RNs are the top occupation with exceptionally long vacancies.
Strengthening Nursing’s Influence in a Rapidly Changing Health Care Environment
The Leadership Washington Nursing Action Coalition (Leadership WNAC) is a strong partner in the statewide Healthier WA initiative to improve population health. Lead by co-chairs and public health nurses Dorene Hersh, MSN, RN and Katie Eilers, RN, MSN, the committee was influential in the appointment of seven nurses to Healthier WA advisory committees, who serve in addition to three nurses appointed by the Governor onto the initiative’s leadership council. In addition, the Leadership WNAC is connected to regional Accountable Communities of Healthboards around the state.
Pictured: Dorene Hersh, right, speaks to the nursing professions’ role in improving population health at a Healthier WA conference
Acting on strategies to increase diversity and Inclusion in the nursing profession
In collaboration with Heritage University, the Yakima Valley Nurses Association, Washington State University, Yakima Valley Community College, and local community leaders, WCN launched a diversity mentoring program that will continue in 2017.
Pictured: Yakima Valley Nurses Association members with Washington State University College of Nursing students and Yakima Valley College nursing students at a mentoring program event in Yakima