Oregon Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Grant Helps Put Nurses on Boards

The Oregon Action Coalition (OAC) is now part of the Future of Nursing State Implementation Program (SIP), receiving a two-year $146,000 grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and others.

“If we’re going to be transforming healthcare and creating a new culture of health, nurses will be at the forefront,” said Jana R. Bitton, MPA, co-lead of the OAC and executive director of the Oregon Center for Nursing.

The project aims to prepare nurses to take positions on policy boards of hospitals, coordinated care organizations and other organizations that influence health.

“We’re trying to have a wide view,” said Tom Engle, RN, co-lead of the OAC and chair of the nursing section of the Oregon Public Health Association.

Engle said policy boards that would benefit from input from nurses could include local housing organizations or groups working on minimum wage or food safety.

“Transportation boards can have such a huge impact” on health, said Marni Kuyl, director of health and human services for Washington County. “They don’t know what a nurse can contribute.”

Bitton said a new generation of nurse leaders statewide could be part of the solution to nursing shortages that hit rural areas, public health and long-term care facilities harder than metropolitan areas and hospitals.

Engle said while this grant is not particularly focused on easing nursing shortages he can’t see how hospitals in rural areas having trouble hiring nurses can find solutions without working nurses or nursing school faculty on their boards.

In addition to the grant to Oregon, RWJF announced that Action Coalitions in seven other states that are already part of the SIP Program—Alabama, Maryland, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia—will receive their second two-year grants of up to $150,000 each. The SIP Program now supports Action Coalitions in 34 states, and the new grants bring the total that RWJF has provided to them through SIP to $8.85 million. SIP grantees must obtain matching funds and, to date, states with SIP grants have raised more than $12.6 million beyond their RWJF funding. The 51 Action Coalitions have leveraged a total of more than $17 million beyond their RWJF grants.

Other funders providing the match for the Oregon RWJF grant are OCN, Oregon Health & Science University’s hospital and school of nursing, Legacy Health and Dana Bjarnason, personally. “She believes in it that much,” said Bitton. “Nurses are key to making changes to how healthcare is provided.”

Jan can be reached at [email protected].

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