As America’s patient population ages, the Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders program has hit a milestone: 25 years of empowering nurses involved in geriatric care. And now it’s broadening the scope of its mission to encompass not only hospitals and physician offices, but nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other long-term care settings, as well. “Staying true to our core mission, we are taking the lessons learned over a quarter of a century of evidence-based education, training and mentorship to the next level,” said Mattia Gilmartin, who was recently appointed executive director. The NICHE program, based at New York University’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing, also will celebrate its first quarter-century at its annual four-day conference April 19-22 in Austin, Texas. Today, the program comprises 680 member institutions in the U.S., Canada, Bermuda and Singapore.

Deans: Include Nurses in ACA Talks

Deans of some of the nation’s most prestigious nursing schools sent a letter to congressional leaders in February expressing concern that repealing the Affordable Care Act “without simultaneously enacting legislation with similar comprehensive coverage could jeopardize the nation’s health care system, affecting patients and the providers who care for them.” The letter from the Deans’ Nursing Policy Coalition and sent to Sens. Mitch McConnell and Charles Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, went on, “We believe it is important that nursing be part of the national conversation on the repeal and replacement of the ACA and any changes to Medicaid, Medicare or the insurance coverage of our citizens as nurses will provide care to those millions of patients who will be the recipients of care resulting from any changes to the coverage of their health care.” The letter was signed by deans from 10 nursing schools, including those at Case Western University, Columbia University, Duke University, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, New York University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Rochester, Vanderbilt University and Yale University.

Nurses as Chief Spirituality Officers

Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville, Ga., is a proponent of faith community nursing, an approach to patient care that targets the traditional mind and body with the less-common focus of spirituality, according to “We all have a spirit that needs to be fed,” Lori Floyd, clinical nurse educator in Gwinnett Medical Center’s faith community nursing department, told the news site. “Part of what faith community nurses do is try to address that and keep it balanced,” Floyd said. Much of that work entails reaching out to patients with assistance from the region’s churches, who can join Gwinnett’s faith community network. With permission from patients, their respective church can be notified of their hospitalization.

More States Giving Power to NPs 

In the growing movement to give independence to nurse practitioners, South Dakota recently passed legislation allowing NPs to practice without the supervision of a physician, Forbes reports. All told, there are now 22 states, in addition to the District of Columbia, that have recognized the growing need to increase access to care by granting full practice authority to nurse practitioners. “There is a need for more health care professionals in rural areas of our state,” said South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard in a release.” This bill will eliminate a hurdle for some nurse practitioners and midwives who want to serve in those high-need communities.” And while growing access to care seems good for all, there has been some pushback from physicians on what they view as NPs and physician assistant “encroaching on their turf” as Forbes puts it. To ease those concerns, the South Dakota law allows for full practice authority following the completion of 1,040 hours under physician supervision, according to the report.

Rapid Fire

Here are a few more nurse-related items that caught our eye in the past week, in rapid fashion: 

  • The American Organization of Nurse Executives is helping the Health Research and Educational Trust to spread the word about new and updated tools to help nurses and other clinicians to combat sepsis and adverse drug events. 
  • Hundreds of nurses in California are rallying to voice their support for the state's efforts to launch a single-payer health care system, ABC News reports
  • And finally, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services is budgeting for 15 percent rasies for nurses as a means to better attract and retain RNs, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports