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Hassmiller delivers 2021 David C. Jowers Lecture

ATLANTA – What does the future of nursing hold? That was the question up for discussion during the 2021 David. C Jowers Lecture. This year's virtual event featured keynote speaker Susan B. Hassmiller, RN, PhD, FAAN. Hassmiller is the Senior Advisor for Nursing at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In this role, she shapes and leads the Foundation's nursing strategies to create a higher quality of care in the county for people, families, and communities. 

"It's such an honor to speak in David's name and to honor his spirited memory," said Hassmiller. "He left a legacy of leadership and service to others. He cared very deeply for people and the environment. He expressed his care through his work and love of nature. He touched the lives of many people."

Hassmiller's lecture shares the same title as a study from the National Academy of Medicine: The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a path to achieve health equity. She shared her goal for this year's lecture – to discuss the new Future of Nursing report, explain why nurses need to advance health equity, and share how those watching the talk can get involved.

"The past year has increased nurse's visibility," she said. "But it's come at a great cost. Nurses are emotionally spent from caring for Covid patients. The pandemic has also laid bare the stark inequities that have persisted across generations."

Hassmiller said that more policy reform is needed to unleash nurses' true potential.  

"For too long, the nursing profession has identified as being a caring profession but has maintained an identity of colorblindness," she said. "As a result, we have not addressed systemic barriers that keep the nursing profession overwhelmingly white and female."

Hassmiller shared the report's key takeaways during her presentation. For our country to advance health equity for all, the systems that educate, pay, and employ nurses need to: 

  • Permanently remove nurse practice barriers
  • Value nurses' contributions
  • Prepare nurses to tackle and understand health equity
  • Fully support nurses–pandemic has exacerbated nurses' moral distress.

"You can't pour from an empty cup," urges Hasmiller. "The pandemic has taken an unprecedented toll on the nursing workforce."

When the panelist portion of the lecture began, the following healthcare professionals joined: Loretta Jackson Brown – PhD, RN, CNN Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bob Dent – DNP, RN, FACHE, FAAN, FAONL Emory Healthcare, and Jasmine Clark – PhD, BS Representative, Georgia House District 108

They answered questions from the audience on creating more health equity and eliminating disparities in the nursing field. 

"With this issue, this is so deep-seated that it's all hands on deck, and I am a firm believer that nurses can and must get involved on this issue," said Hassmiller. 

 "We've been involved in centuries past, and we must remember our roots. I hope that every single one of you will answer the call to create a world where everyone can experience the best possible care." 

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