Nurses make up the largest cohort in the health care workforce. And a recent study conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) concluded that the number of nurses will grow with a heavier emphasis on population health, according to Managed Healthcare Executive.
Paul Kuehnert, DNP, RN, FAAN and assistant vice president for RWJF Program staff, spoke to the importance of utilizing nurses in leadership roles:
Because of the nature of their roles, nurses often spend more face-to-face time with patients, which allows them to gain insight into the community and societal factors that impact patients’ lives and health. Armed with this insight, nurses can work with primary care physicians to help connect patients to resources within the community that can improve their overall well-being.
Kuehnert suggested three ways that care providers can better utilize nurses through leadership roles to improve patient population care:
1. Encourage collaboration and dialogue
Nurses must understand, internalize, and act on the knowledge that nurses can be and are leaders, irrespective of their titles—and that by collaborating with policymakers, businesses, health systems, and more, nurses can exponentially increase the impact they have, well beyond the healthcare setting.
2. Help them use data to focus efforts
We’ll also need to better prepare nurses for key evolving population-focused nursing roles in fields that include care management, chronic disease management, and population data analysis.
3. Increase their technology literacy
Education should provide students with the technical skills they need to compile and analyze population and community data in order to understand the impact of the community conditions on patients’ health.