A New Era for Academic Nursing

David Vlahov, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the UCSF School of Nursing, has been on the Board of Directors for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) for the past three years. Early in his term and along with the other AACN Board Members, he advocated for a report on the role of Schools of Nursing in Academic Health Centers where the landscape has been changing with the implementation of health reform. Medical Centers have been in the process of developing models of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).

Naturally, Academic Medicine has been undergoing transformation as well. This has been examined within the UC system with the four Schools of Nursing (UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, and UCSF) generating a White Paper. From a national perspective, AACN heard the voice of the collective of Nursing Schools affiliated with Academic Health Centers. Consequently, AACN commissioned Manatt consulting group to generate a report that includes input from Deans from Schools of Nursing and Medicine, CNOs and CEOs, and University Presidents. The report has been released—see, Advancing Healthcare Transformation, A New Era for Academic Nursing.

The report concludes that academic nursing must play a significant role in advancing healthcare transformation at the local, state, and national levels. Specifically, the report highlights three top findings and six resulting recommendations:

Top three findings:

  • Academic nursing is not positioned as a partner in healthcare transformation
  • Institutional leaders recognize the missed opportunity for alignment with academic nursing and seeking a new approach
  • Insufficient resources are a barrier to supporting a significantly enhanced role for academic nursing


  • Embrace a new vision for academic nursing
  • Enhance the clinical practice of academic nursing
  • Partner in preparing the nurses of the future
  • Partner in the implementation of accountable care
  • Invest in nursing research programs and better integrate research into clinical practice
  • Implement an advocacy agenda to support a new era for academic nursing

Equipped with a deeper understanding of today’s landscape, the report identifies a path for achieving an enhanced partnership between academic nursing and academic health centers around the imperative to advance integrated systems of health care, achieve improved health outcomes, and foster new models for innovation.

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