Nurses call for a seat at the table in health law implementation

    With major changes in health-care delivery coming under the federal Affordable Care Act, nurses say they need to be at the decision-making table.

    Susan Hassmiller, senior adviser for nursing at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, says she has noticed improved communication between doctors and nurses on the ground level.

    But she said nurses should have more of a say in the big decisions on how to implement provisions of the federal health law.

    “Say, for example in a hospital board room, there might be decisions going on around a new technology system coming in or some quality and safety procedures. A nurse can say, hmm, I don’t think that will quite work that way,” Hassmiller said. “They need to be at the table.”

    Hassmiller said her organization is trying to bring about that inclusion.

    “We’re trying to educate people who are the inviters of nurses to the table,” Hassmiller said. “And we’re trying to work with nurses to say ‘I can be at that table.'”

    That was Hassmiller’s call at a nursing summit in Philadelphia Thursday.

    At the conference, a local nurses group called for doubling the number of nurses with their doctorates by the year 2020 to increase the faculty available to train new nurses.

    Hassmiller said the nationwide nursing shortage eased a bit with the recession, as nurses delayed retirement or picked up additional hours to supplement family income.

    But she predicts the reprieve won’t last forever, as nurses begin retiring in the next five years and aging populations create more demand for health-care services.

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