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Louisiana Action Coalition holds forum in Lafayette

While health care consumers continue to express concern about the effects of the Affordable Care Act and the rollout of, nurses in Louisiana are working together to find ways to help solve some of the problems plaguing our state’s health care system.

Yesterday in Lafayette, the Louisiana Action Coalition hosted a gathering of local nurses, nursing students, educators, and nurse champions to discuss the future of nursing in Acadiana.The Louisiana Action Coalition (LAC) is part of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a national initiative to guide implementation of the recommendations in The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, a landmark Institute of Medicine report. The report, released in October 2010, includes evidence-based recommendations on how nurses, the largest segment of the health care workforce, can contribute to improving our health care system.

The Campaign envisions a health care system where all Americans have access to high-quality care, with nurses contributing to the full extent of their capabilities.

“As nurses, we are the largest group of health care workers,” said Cynthia Bienemy, PhD, RN, Louisiana Center for Nursing director and LAC co-lead. “We have the education, training, expertise, and patient-care experience to contribute to the transformation of our state’s health care system. Our efforts are about ensuring that all citizens in Louisiana receive high quality, cost-effective, patient-centered care. ”

Bienemy presented recently compiled information that shows a nursing shortage for RNs and APRNs in the Lafayette region through 2020. Her presentation was followed by a panel discussion about the effects of current and future nursing shortages from the perspectives of consumers, policy makers, employers and nursing faculty. Participants in the panel discussion included Louisiana State Senator Fred Mills; University of Louisiana Lafayette Dean of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences, Gail Poirrier, DNS, RN; and Lafayette General Medical Center Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer Rebecca Benoit, BSN, MHA, RN.

Poirrier, a member of LAC’s Core Leadership Team, helped plan the forum. “We want to hear from our practicing nurses,” she said. “We want to be sure we offer educational programs that meet their needs so they can continue to progress in their nursing careers.”

Attendees, student nurses and registered nurses actively practicing in Acadiana, spent the last session of the forum in breakout groups where they discussed leadership, education, and practice as it relates to the nursing profession in their region.

“Feedback from the breakout session discussions will help us paint a picture of what the nursing workforce looks like in Acadiana,” said Bienemy. “If we truly want to provide leadership in improving health care outcomes in Louisiana, we need to hear from the more than 41,000 RNs and the 3,600 APRNs in Louisiana who are providing direct patient care to the citizens of our state. We want nurses involved in positive change.

The Louisiana Action Coalition will hold similar forums for nurses in Alexandria, New Orleans, Lake Charles and Shreveport over the next 12 months.

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