Strengthening the role of nurses to improve healthcare ranks as the top goal for Deborah E. Trautman, MSN, PhD, RN, who has been CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing in Washington, D.C., since June.
The new CEO replaced Geraldine Polly Bednash, MSN, PhD, RN, FAAN, who retired after 28 years as head of the AACN. Trautman talked to Nurse.com about her goals as CEO, the issues facing nurses and the moment she realized nursing would become her lifelong passion.
How do you hope to build on the accomplishments of your predecessor?
Trautman: She is an incredibly accomplished leader. Someone said that in many ways, AACN is the house that Polly built. I believe her stewardship over the last three decades has been significant in AACN being positioned as the national voice for the baccalaureate and graduate nurse education…Im looking forward to the opportunity to continue that great legacy to provide leadership so that we can continue to advance the strategic plan to help us achieve our goals.
What do you hope to accomplish as the new CEO?
Trautman: I am very interested in placing a high priority on continuing to increase the nursing professions visibility, participation and our leadership in national efforts to improve health and healthcare. I think its critically important that we work together as a community and collaborate so that our efforts result in better health and healthcare for the American population.
How will your experience benefit the organization?
Trautman: I have the benefit of viewing the profession from different lenses: the lens of academia, the lens of practice and the lens of advocacy. I think all of those will serve me well in this position and in the work that we want to do at AACN for the profession.
Your career is anchored by impressive achievements. Where did you get your drive for excellence?
Trautman: I think that my drive has been shaped by many different influences; most certainly my family and [the] wonderful friendships I have developed over the course of my life in working in healthcare. I started my career [at Presbyterian University Hospital] before it became the Pittsburgh Medical Center. And then I came to Hopkins for a time. I also was in Washington, D.C. as a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow. In each of those experiences, I had the opportunity to work with very committed, driven individuals who also cared about improving health and healthcare, and thats contagious.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Trautman: Team building and collaboration [that] may have occurred in each of the positions that I held. That stands out to me as a highlight in my career. I had an opportunity to work with, in all of these settings, a diverse group that comes together around a very common interest. Early in my career, it was improving emergency care by doing that with a multidisciplinary group. In coming to Hopkins, [it was] not only working to improve emergency care, but access to care for all patients. So I would say the proudest accomplishment and opportunity has been to work with teams and see collectively what we can accomplish.
What key issues or challenges will nursing face in the future?
Trautman: We are in an unprecedented era of both opportunity and transformation for the healthcare delivery system. The national efforts are to focus on improving the experience of care and reducing the per capita cost, and that is going to drive the work that we all do for the foreseeable future. We have an opportunity and a responsibility to be at the forefront of ushering in some of these new changes. We will be thinking about how we engage with our own profession as well as the broader community to accomplish what cant be done by just one profession.
When did you know you wanted to become a nurse? What was your aha moment?
Trautman: One of my first positions of employment was working as a nurses aide. I had an extraordinary experience. I worked with a great team and while I was impressed with the work of the entire team, the nurses really impressed me. Their knowledge, their intelligence and competence in which they carried out their responsibilities and the advocacy role they played for the patients they were taking care of that was very profound and made a lasting impact on me in understanding what nurses do and motivating me to be just like them.
Robin Farmer is a freelancer writer