West Texas Coalition, GGHSON Faculty are Transforming the Nursing Profession

A Texas coalition is redefining what it means to be a nurse.

Last month, the Upper Rio Grande Region of the Texas Team Campaign for Action Coalition brought together nurses from throughout the Paso del Norte region in an effort to meet specific goals for the nursing field. One of the coalition’s main missions has been to increase the number of nurses serving on medical boards and other committees, with the goal of reaching at least 10,000 by 2020. The philosophy: All boards benefit from the unique perspective that nurses offer, and having nurses on boards leads to improved health and more efficient and effective health care systems at the local, state, and national levels.

Two Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing (GGHSON) faculty, Linda Lawson, D.N.P., R.N., NEA-BC, and Gloria Loera, D.N.P., R.N., led the local effort.

The progress made in El Paso is part of a national effort by the Nurses on Boards Coalition (NOBC), a coalition that represents nursing and other organizations working to build healthier communities by increasing nurses’ presence on health-related boards, panels, and commissions. Lawson, who also serves as Chief Nursing Officer at The Hospitals of Providence Transmountain Campus, sees the need to have nurses on boards and its importance in the mission to improve the broader health care system.

“Nurses represent the largest segment of the health care workforce, and are constantly ranked as the most trustworthy of all professionals,” Lawson said. “Nurse leaders bring special skills to boards and are uniquely qualified to integrate their experience, perspectives, and decision-making skills to boards and commissions that work to improve the health of everyone in America.”

As part of the effort to elevate nurses to leadership positions, a key focus of the conference was to bring awareness to support resources for working nurses pursuing advanced degrees.

“Many of our nursing colleagues are both full-time employees and students,” said Loera, who also serves as Director of Nursing at The Hospitals of Providence East Campus. “Texas Team wants to connect these individuals with mentors to support them through their journey to successfully complete their program of study. The more nurses West Texas has with advanced degrees, the better prepared we are to confront challenges facing our health care system and directly impact outcomes of our community members.”

With a rapidly shifting health care landscape, nurses can help connect high-level hospital operations and business objectives to patient care outcomes. Traditionally, advanced practice nurses have served in leadership roles within nursing units; however, now hospital leadership teams are looking to nurses for their patient-centered perspective.

“Nurses bring a unique set of skills and experience. For example, advocacy and altruism are fundamental competencies in nursing,” Loera said. “Communities, hospitals and patients can expect, at minimum, increased access to care with more advanced practice nurses, contribution to health care policy initiatives, and accountability for patient care services across the spectrum of health care.”

Since its founding, Texas Team has contributed to major advances, including launching several Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs; increasing the number of nurses holding four-year degrees and beyond; securing grants to help fund nursing programs; and spearheading the nurses on boards effort.