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Emory nursing dean joins nurse leaders in outlining profession's prominence in health care reform

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Linda McCauley, PhD, RN, FAAN, FAAOHN, dean of Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and members of the Deans Nursing Policy Coalition recently convened in Washington D.C. to discuss the centrality of advanced practice nursing to the health care system in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of the Affordable Care Act.  

Sponsored by the House Nursing Caucus, a bipartisan advisory organization, the July 19 briefing spotlighted the specialized education and training of advanced practice nurses (APNs) that make them uniquely qualified to provide the kind of cost-efficient, quality care that will be required as health care reform unfolds, particularly for minority and underserved populations, senior citizens and children.    

In addition to delineating nursing’s increasing importance in providing cost-saving primary care, the briefing also covered how research from nurse scientists promotes and improves health outcomes, the role of nurses and nurse educators and the importance of federal support and the evolving mission of health care provider teams for disease prevention and treatment, especially in geriatric populations.

“Chronic illness among older adults is going to touch us all,” said McCauley. “As the incidence of chronic disease among this population outpaces the number of physicians to care for them, the training and skill of advanced practice nurses make them well-suited to provide care for this vulnerable population. A team approach is essential because this population is particularly susceptible to co-morbidities, particularly behavioral health issues. Psychiatric issues commonly coincide with chronic illness and advanced practice nurses can play a key role in coordinating care among a patient’s health care team that might include a geriatric psychiatrist, medical specialist, pharmacist and physical therapist.”  

Joining McCauley in the Congressional briefing were the deans of the nursing schools from Columbia University, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Rochester. Nursing Caucus co-chairs, Congressman Steven LaTourette (R-OH) and Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA), also underscored the importance of nursing to the next chapter of the nation’s evolving health care system.

“Today’s briefing signals a significant moment,” said Congresswoman Capps, noting that this was the first Congressional briefing for the coalition of nursing school deans. “Graduate schools of nursing have an increasingly significant role to play as the new health law goes into effect,” she said. “Nurses are the backbone of our health care system and advanced practice nurses are a major force in the future health of the nation’s citizens, families, and communities.”


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