Linda H. Aiken, RN, PhD, FAAN, FRCN, the director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, gave a presentation April 11 at Lewis Universitys Oak Brook (Ill.) campus.
The presentation, titled “Unleashing the Power of Nursing,” detailed how the Affordable Care Act could affect the future of nursing, specifically scope of nursing practice. The event was held at Lewis Universitys new Oak Brook campus, which opened to students early in 2013.
Aiken was introduced by Brother James Gaffney, FSC, president of Lewis University, and Peggy Rice, RN-BC, EdD, APRN, dean of the Lewis University College of Nursing and Health Professions. Rice said bringing Aiken to Lewis University to speak was the centerpiece of celebrating the 40th anniversary of the College of Nursing and Health Professions.
“She has changed the way the public and the healthcare industry has perceived nursing,” Rice said.
Aiken began her presentation with a correction. While the pamphlet given to those in attendance listed the presentations title as “Unleashing the Power of Advanced Practice Nursing,” Aiken removed “advanced practice” from the title. “We have to unleash the power of all nursing,” Aiken said.
Aiken called the ACA a game changer in which nurses would become part of the solution to the healthcare issues the U.S. faces. The ACA means many newly insured people will reach the marketplace, she said, which means more people will need to be available to take care of them.
“Who is going to take care of all these newly insured people?” Aiken asked the audience.
The answer, Aiken said, are advanced practice nurses, but that means increasing the scope of nursing practice.
“Nurses have good ideas,” Aiken said. “Nurses have been doing these sorts of things for a long time. Maybe we should empower them more.”
Aiken recommends the nursing industry respond aggressively and strategically to the changes brought about by the ACA and to continue to work toward increasing the scope of nursing practice, though she knows it has its detractors.
“There still is a lot of rhetoric out there, but its only rhetoric,” Aiken said. “If we want nurses to lead, we need to educate them to lead.”
Joe Grace is a regional editor.