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National Group Names Elms ‘Best Practices’ Nursing School

CHICOPEE — The School of Nursing at the College of Our Lady of the Elms has earned national recognition as a “best practices” nursing school from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) in Washington, D.C.

The organization’s new report, Advancing Healthcare Transformation: A New Era for Academic Nursing, addresses how baccalaureate and higher-degree schools of nursing can amplify their role in improving health and healthcare at the local, state and national levels. Elms College is cited as one of 14 real-world examples from nursing schools around the country that are engaged in best practices.

As the dean of the School of Nursing at Elms, Kathleen Scoble, Ed.D., RN, participated in the AACN’s national study, sharing information on the school’s undergraduate, master’s-level and doctor of nursing practice (DNP) programs.

“Partnering with healthcare systems to create a pipeline of nurses who will meet workforce needs of the future was proposed by the study as one of the greatest opportunities for academic nursing, and I am proud that Elms College School of Nursing has already achieved this in the local healthcare community,” Scoble said. “The AACN reported that our DNP collaborative practice partnership with Baystate Health and Berkshire Medical Center demonstrates the type of partnership that schools of nursing across the country are seeking to achieve.”

Since 2013, AACN member deans from Academic Health Centers (AHCs) have discussed the evolving role of nursing schools during a time of healthcare reform. These leaders approached AACN about conducting a formal assessment of the opportunities and challenges ahead for academic nursing. In February 2015, AACN commissioned Manatt Health to complete a national study on optimizing nursing’s role in AHCs, which includes recommendations that all baccalaureate and higher-degree schools of nursing can use to move toward long-term success and sustainability. Based on an analysis of the data collected, the AACN-Manatt report recommends that:


  • Academic nursing should be recognized as a full partner in healthcare delivery, education, and research that is integrated and funded across all professions and missions in the academic health system;
  • Nursing faculty should engage more deeply in clinical practice;
  • The pipeline into baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs should be strengthened, including an emphasis on leadership development at all levels;
  • Academic nursing should partner to advance new clinical models and promote accountable care;
  • A greater investment should be made to stimulate nursing research, including closer alignment with research efforts across the health professions; and
  • Government support for academic nursing should be expanded, including more funding for nursing research and the removal of regulatory barriers impacting scope of practice.

The report provides a strategic framework with specific implementation strategies for engaging nursing and medical school deans, health system executives, and university presidents and chancellors in the collaborative work needed to spark clinical innovation, align critical resources and fortify the public’s health. It concludes with an organizational self-assessment tool that can be used to determine the degree of alignment that currently exists between healthcare and higher education institutions, which will help to highlight areas where work needs to continue.

“At this pivotal point in our history, academic nursing is ready to take a bold step forward as a full partner in the work to transform healthcare delivery, education and research,” said Dr. Juliann Sebastian, chair of the AACN board of directors.

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