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News Release

August 29, 2012
Hawai‘i one of nine states to get $300,000 grant to build higher quality nursing workforce

Robyn Kuraoka
(808) 948-6826

The Hawai‘i State Center for Nursing and the HMSA Foundation are recipients of a two-year $300,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The new program, Academic Progression in Nursing, builds on state health care workforce strategies to create a more highly educated, diverse nursing workforce. The grant will help Hawaii increase the percentage of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the state from 60 percent to the goal of 80 percent by 2020.

“With an aging and increasingly diverse population, we need to prepare nursing health professionals to meet the increasing challenges of providing complex health care to the people of Hawaii,” said Deborah Gardner, Ph.D., R.N.,F.A.A.N., executive director of Hawai‘i State Center for Nursing. “This new program will help meet the state’s health and health workforce needs through academic-community partnerships.”

The basis for the grant comes from the 2010 Institute of Medicine groundbreaking report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change Advancing Health. The report notes that a better-educated nursing workforce is needed to ensure access to high-quality, patient-centered care.

Building on a successful history of collaboration between the Hawaii State Center for Nursing and the HMSA Foundation, The Hawaii Action Coalition will provide oversight and strategic direction for the grant. The coalition is composed of health care leaders and legislators from across the state and is led by Gardner and Mark Forman, HMSA Foundation executive administrator.

Academic partners will continue to build on a statewide competency-based curriculum to help students and practicing nurses statewide earn a baccalaureate degree and higher. Employer partners will highlight the importance of their organizations’ support of the baccalaureate degree for nurses and will institutionalize opportunities and incentives for their nurses.

“The partnerships with employers are critical to the success of this program,” says Forman, “and the Foundation is confident we have this type of community support. Together, the grant will help us enhance existing efforts to improve patient outcomes and ensure quality health care for the people of Hawaii.”

About the HMSA Foundation

The HMSA Foundation is dedicated to improving health in Hawaii through grant making, strategic initiatives, publications, and community programs. In 1998, the HMSA Foundation became a private foundation and established a grant making program in response to the growing need for education, research, information, and financial support to help people understand and adapt to the rapidly changing health care system. The HMSA Foundation provides a vehicle for HMSA to invest resources in a cost-effective way that enhances the overall health and quality of life for Hawaii’s communities.

About the Hawai‘i State Center for Nursing

The Hawai‘i State Center for Nursing was established in 2005 by the state legislature in response to the growing state and national nursing shortage. The Center’s mandates include development and implementation of recruitment and retention strategies, collection and analysis of current and future workforce trends, and development and implementation of innovative best practices in nursing. A champion of nursing excellence, the Center is committed to improving access to quality affordable healthcare to serve the changing health needs the people of Hawaii. For more information visit