UK HealthCare

College of Nursing and UK HealthCare lauded for exemplary workforce partnership

UK college of nursing staff
UK College of Nursing and UK HealthCare staff. Photo courtesy of the UK College of Nursing.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 18, 2022) — The American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) will release a compendium of best practices in the fall of 2022 related to workforce and innovations. One focus area includes academic-clinical partnerships and the relationship between the University of Kentucky College of Nursing and UK HealthCare was cited as a “prime example of the scenarios AONL is seeking.” 

Brandy Mathews, D.N.P., chief nursing officer for Good Samaritan Hospital, has created a document detailing the partnership and its outcomes. Mathews serves on the board of directors for AONL as well as the Academic Clinical Partnerships subcommittee of AONL workforce taskforce.

“All health care organizations are really working to develop strategies to continue to increase their workforce,” said Mathews. “One element that is important is working together to develop the pipeline of nurses. We in health care have to support the colleges to increase enrollment and produce more successful graduating students.”

Mathews explained that she was asked to serve on the subcommittee after she and Kathy Isaacs, Ph.D., chief nursing officer for Kentucky Children’s Hospital, shared details of the Student Nurse Academic Practicum (SNAP) program with other affiliates of AONL. The SNAP program allows students to gain academic credit while working in the hospital with both College of Nursing faculty and clinical preceptors.  

UK College of Nursing Dean Janie Heath said the college’s mention in HealthLeaders is telling of the advancements that have been made.

“This speaks to the power of the Big Blue Nursing Nation,” said Heath. “When something great happens in the College of Nursing that impacts UK HealthCare and vice versa.”

“Headlines with U.S. News & World report ranking our BSN program as No. 1 in the state and among the top 2 percent in the country, as well as UK HealthCare earning the premier recognition for nursing care excellence — MAGNET re-designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center — to me that is ‘advance release’ justification of best practices,” Dean Heath added.

Some of the best practices that Mathews has shared with the AONL include expansion of the SNAP program, senior leader involvement in new nursing student orientation, collaboration to create an accelerated path for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, and support for a Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredited nurse residency program.

“UK HealthCare and the UK College of Nursing have established a true clinical partnership and it is an honor to be able to highlight this collaboration,” said Mathews.

Dean Heath said current events highlight the importance of workforce development.

“With over 80,000 RNs working in every aspect of care delivery in Kentucky we know two things very well: one, we have a nursing shortage and two, nurses must be prepared to practice at the full extent of their education and licensure,” said Heath. “Today’s environment of ever-evolving infectious diseases, advances in technology and public health disasters, either man-made (violence) or natural (floods), requires a workforce that embraces lifelong professional development/learning.”

Regarding the importance of the partnership between the College of Nursing and UK HealthCare, Dean Heath said that in such a research-intensive environment, “the University of Kentucky College of Nursing is a natural bridge with UK HealthCare to advance nursing science and scholarly clinical practice through interprofessional health education programs and clinical practice.”

AONL will release the compendium of best practices in three parts this fall.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $501 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.