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Kickoff meeting in Alexandria successful

More than 70 nurses met on Sept. 28 to discuss the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, and how its recommendations can be advanced in central Louisiana.

“As the largest group of health care professionals, nurses can help solve some of the problems plaguing the state’s health care system. We want to strengthen our profession and work with other stakeholders to improve health and health care in Louisiana,” said Diane Fulton, RN, MSN, Rapides Regional Medical Center (RRMC) chief nursing officer.

During the meeting, which was hosted by RRMC, nursing representatives from Louisiana College, Louisiana State University at Alexandria, and Northwestern State University (NSU) shared details about existing RN educational programs. Plans for future programs that would further the efforts to educate and retain RNs in central Louisiana were presented.

“We have programs for associate degree registered nurses and licensed practical nurses who wish to obtain their bachelor’s degrees in nursing, graduate education for nurse practitioners and nurse educators, and doctoral nursing education” said Carolyn Hartt, MSN, RN, assistant professor and coordinator of Nursing Education, for NSU’s Alexandria campus. “NSU, along with all nursing education providers in central Louisiana, will continue to look for ways to help nurses achieve higher levels of education.”

Representatives from RRMC, CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital, Avoyelles Hospital, Pinecrest Developmental Center and the Alexandria Veteran’s Administration Health Center shared details about their nurse residency programs and mentoring activities for new nurses at their facilities.

“Nursing is really a lifelong learning process, and we must find ways to expand those learning opportunities,” said Fulton. “From mentoring new nurses to providing practical ways for nurses to achieve higher degrees, we are determined to grow and change to meet the health care needs of our state’s residents.”

The meeting served as a kickoff for the central Louisiana regional coalition. The Louisiana Action Coalition has divided the state into eight regions and each one will customize its work to fit the needs of that region. Parishes included in the central Louisiana region are Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, Grant LaSalle, Rapides, Vernon and Winn. Fulton and Ann Deshotels, MSN, RN, NSU assistant professor of Nursing, are leading the local effort and have a list of engaged nurses who will create and execute a strategic plan for central Louisiana.

“We are excited to form our committees and get to work,” said Deshotels. “We have a lot of ideas and positive energy here. I am certain we can work together to move the IOM recommendations forward and strengthen nursing in central Louisiana. We have one goal: Improve health outcomes for all Americans.”

In the photo: Ann Deshotels, MSN, RN, NSU assistant professor of nursing, speaks to area nurses about developing strategic goals for the region.

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