UNDATED (TAMPA BAY ONLINE) -- Just as Florence Nightingale, the first nursing leader, transformed nursing practice more than 150 years ago, nurses, doctors and other medical professionals of our generation are leading the way in health care transformation. This is evident in Florida, as two major nurse-led initiatives are under way that will change health care delivery for the better.
The first is an innovative use of technology proven to produce nurses and other medical professionals who are better trained in procedures, resulting in improved patient care. Called simulation, the training uses sophisticated, life-like robots in real-world settings such as an emergency room or maternity ward. The robots can be programmed to exhibit a variety of ailments, symptoms, reactions and responses.
Simulation technology, if widely available, has the potential of increasing the capacity of nursing schools to train more nurses because hospitals and other clinical training centers have a limited number of openings for students each term.
Seeing the potential for simulation technology to enhance nurse education, the Florida Center for Nursing (FCN) and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation (BCBSF Foundation) launched a two-year study of the simulation resources available in Florida. The study was funded by BCBSF Foundation and Partners Investing in Nursing's Future, a national initiative led by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Northwest Health Foundation to engage philanthropists in improving health care through nursing.
Preliminary results of the study were shared in January with a "think tank" of nursing, industry and policy leaders in Florida. A consensus of the group determined that simulation will be integrated into all health care settings and educational institutions through statewide collaboration.
The second nurse-led transformation under way is much broader in scope and invites a cross-section of the community to participate. Florida is one of 15 states forming a regional action coalition that will bring together business executives, government officials, health industry executives and medical professionals — including nurses — to transform the way Americans receive health care.
The national call to action is based on the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) recommendations issued last fall in a landmark report, "The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health." Since nurses are the largest segment of the health care work force and have a central role in how health care is delivered in the United States, it is essential for nurses to take a leadership role to transform the nursing profession and advance health.
The Florida regional action coalition was officially announced in February, and a steering committee of a dozen Florida-based nursing organizations, health industry executives and philanthropists is working to establish the coalition.
Its goals are to foster interprofessional collaboration; enable all health care professionals to practice to the full extent of their education and training; strengthen nurse education and training; expand leadership ranks to ensure that nurses have a voice on management teams, in boardrooms and during policy debates; and improve health care work force data collection.
The IOM report concluded that the U.S. "has the opportunity to transform its health care system, and nurses can and should play a fundamental role in this transformation." But, nurses alone can't make it happen. It will require the collaboration of government, businesses, health care organizations, professional associations and the insurance industry.
As we observe the birthday of Florence Nightingale by honoring nurses during National Nurses Week this week, we invite Florida stakeholders in health care to join the regional action coalition. Together, we can make widespread changes to health care using methods proven to save lives, restore people to health and improve efficiency in the system.