By Lani White, Core Issues Task Force Coordinator
"Nursing is the unifying force to advance quality health for all" was the message delivered by ANA President, Rebecca Patton, RN, MSN, CNOR at the 2007 South Dakota Nurses Association Annual Convention. (Patton, 2007). The same message clearly resonated as South Dakota nurses processed a plan outlining the priority actions needed to advance nursing in the state. The proposed plan emerged from input provided by the membership.
In 2004, the South Dakota Nurses Association (SDNA) adopted a needs assessment process for identification of core issues for action within the state. The intent of the process is to obtain direction from the members of the association with updates every two to four years. This allows selected issues to be a focus for a period of time expanded sufficiently to accomplish desired changes. The 2007 state-wide needs assessment was conducted through personal interviews of members of the association. Each district identified members to conduct the interviews. Each interviewee used an interview tool revised from the original process. The input from the membership was synthesized and drafted into a proposal adopted by the membership at the convention annual meeting.
The working task forces for the next action cycle follow the model of core issues from the American Nurses Association (ANA). Five task forces were approved to include: Education, Economic Value, Work Environment, Nursing Delivery Systems/Nursing Models and Public Relations /Communication.
The Education task force is challenged to address identified needs related to the core issues of nurse preparation and continuing education. Strategies to enhance education of nurses, avenues to increase financial support for entry level and graduate nursing degrees and the need for diverse continuing education offerings throughout the state were the underlying themes related to education.
Economic value core issues focus on the nursing shortage. Comparisons to other health related disciplines along with strategies to recruit and retain nurses and development of innovative compensation packages for nurses were the areas of concern identified for economic value actions.
Direction for the Work Environment task force surrounds the issues of workplace advocacy and patient and nurse safety. Some areas for consideration include patient safety initiatives, nurse/patient ratios, approaches to accommodate the older worker and electronic record keeping methodologies.
Nursing Delivery Systems/Nursing Models
Nursing Delivery Systems/Nursing Models input relates to preparing for the health care of the future, exploration of innovative delivery systems, exploration of nursing roles to include advanced practice nursing and issues related to multiple nursing entry level educational preparation.
The Public Relations /Communications task force is charged with looking at nursing communication and collaboration within the profession, with other key health care disciplines and with the consumer of nursing and health services. The other core issue for this task force addresses the image and visibility of nursing.
(See Table I Core Issue Goals for a full summary of goals for each task force)
Many potential strategies were recommended by members to address the core issues. Each Task Force will develop action plans to advance the strategies which meet the adopted goals. The task forces will not be held back from the lack of ideas to address the issues but will be challenged to develop action plans addressing the issues which can be delivered with the human and financial resources available. Many exciting possibilities exist including Nursing Summits, innovative nursing models, innovative methods and content for continuing education offerings, development of a "Magnet State", and legislation of health policy.
The goals adopted by the membership in October, articulate a vision of growth and innovation for the state of South Dakota. As nursing leaders we are challenged to achieve a workable unity which empowers each of us to focus on the big picture and move out of our own “little corner of the world". (Grossman and Valiga, 2005). You can become a part of that unity by using the sign-up form found in this issue to communicate your interest and willingness to work with a task force. Imagine the power of nearly twelve thousand unified nurses in South Dakota. The SDNA Board of Directors challenges each South Dakota nurse to become actively involved in the work of your professional organization to shape the profession of nursing and the health care within our state.
Grossman, Sheila C.& Valiga, Theresa M.. The New Leadership Challenge Creating the future of nursing. (2 nd ed.). Philadelphia: FA Davis Company.
Patton, Rebecca M., (2007, October). ANA & You: Key Issues in Nursing at the National and State Level. Presentation at the Annual Convention of the South Dakota Nurse’s Association, Aberdeen, SD.