The University of Wyoming Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing has accepted 15 students into the first cohort of the new Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program that begins this fall 2012. Continually seeking innovative clinical sites and ideas for this new program, four UW faculty attended a June conference in Anchorage, Alaska . Faculty attending: Coordinator of the new DNP program, Ann Marie Hart, PhD, FNP-BC; School of Nursing faculty members Anne Bowen, PhD and Candace Stidolph, RN, MS, FNP-C; and physician faculty from the UW Family Practice Residency program in Cheyenne, Doug Parks, MD. (see picture in right side bar)
The conference was sponsored by the Southcentral Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides health care to the Native Alaskans, and which was the 2011 recipient of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award given by the president of the United States. The Foundation has grown since 1982 from a small organization of less than a dozen people and two programs to over 1,500 employees and 65 programs. “I first learned about the Southcentral Foundation (SCF) (based in Anchorage, AK) and their integrative, relationship-based approach to care called ‘NUKA’ in April while attending a national primary care conference in Washington, D.C.,” says Ann Marie Hart. “After attending their presentation, I knew I wanted to go to Anchorage to learn more and wanted others from UW to come with me.”
The nursing faculty members’ separate overviews of the conference convey their excitement about NUKA, one of the most innovative health care systems in our country:
“I firmly believe that building relationships among all staff and ‘customer-owners’ (not patients!) through sharing and responding to meaningful personal stories is the key to transforming primary care.”
“Integrated Primary Care” is a concept I’ve been promoting and teaching for years, but I had never really experienced it or believed it could happen. When Ann Marie comes back from the Washington conference gushing about a mystery conference that we “MUST” go to – in Alaska – I say to myself, “Ok, so Alaska – I can deal with that in the summer.” Arriving in Anchorage, we go to the first day where the reception people separate us and introduce us to our ‘team’ for the next 3 days – "Oh no," we say to each other, "they're going to make us do touchy-feely stuff!” Not only did we participate, but the CEO and three VPs of this 200 million dollar corporation participated with us for the whole five days. After much angst and resistance, by Wednesday we were hooked! I firmly believe that building relationships among all staff and “customer-owners” (not patients!) through sharing and responding to meaningful personal stories is the key to transforming primary care. If providers, whether they be nurses, physicians, nurse practitioners, behavioral health consultants, or traditional healers, embrace the chronically ill individual as the manager of his or her own health and work together to promote physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness, all of us can enjoy high quality cost effective health care.
“SCF has demonstrated that when everyone is in relationship, care outcomes are better and joy in the workplace is raised.”
The conference was amazing! We all came away with so much. Ultimately, I was most struck with how everyone who works for and receives care from SCF relates to one another. The whole organization is based upon developing and maintaining real relationships based upon each individual’s unique life story. The process SCF uses to foster relationships is neither quick nor easy. They put a lot of upfront resources into building relationships with their staff, care providers, and customer-owners (the term they prefer over “patients”) and continue to allot support for maintaining these relationships. In the final analysis, SCF has demonstrated that when everyone is in relationship, care outcomes are better and joy in the workplace is raised.
“The old cliché, ‘You have to see it to believe it,’ really rings true for what we experienced…”
As educators on behalf of our current system of care, we are cognizant of the top dollar price tag associated with the delivery of health-related services. We see the efforts of this system yielding less than top quality results. Health care reform is essential, but it is often difficult to envision what an efficient, high-quality plan might look like. To this end, our DNP education team recognizes the fundamental necessity of incorporating concepts of innovative practice and integrative models of health care delivery into our curricula. Because we are seeking real-world examples to share with our students regarding what an innovative practice might really look like, we were privileged to join a group of other inspirational health stakeholders who attended the 2012 Nuka Conference in Alaska. The old cliché, "You have to see it to believe it," really rings true for what we experienced there. The Nuka system promotes the authentic use of self in this relational approach to improving wellness – from everyone employed there, to the regional communities, to the customer owners [patients]. As the clinical coordinator of the DNP program, I am really excited by the prospect of incorporating the South Central Foundation as a potential clinical site for some of our students as they seek clinical experiences in innovative practice sites.