Nursing Academic Progression: An Imperative

Donna MeyerBy Donna Meyer, MSN, RN, ANEF, FAADN
Chief Executive Officer, OADN

I would like to begin by stating how enthused OADN is about the newly formed partnership with ACEN. Our goal through this partnership is to increase the benefits and the efficacy of the support network for associate degree nursing (ADN) programs and their students. Accreditation has never been more important as it is today as a result of academic progression. The innovative partnership models between university and community colleges often require the accreditation of the ADN program. I applaud ACEN for their support of these new models of nursing education, and believe it will only prove to advance opportunities for students, as well as meet the healthcare workforce needs.

In the past five years, there has been a major focus on academic progression as a result of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) releasing its report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. This report was a thorough examination of how nurses’ roles, responsibilities, and education should change to meet the needs of an aging, increasingly diverse population and to respond to a complex, evolving health care system. The Academic Progression in Nursing (APIN) work funded by the Robert Wood Johnson strengthened partnerships between nursing educators and employers and fostered implementation of new models of education progression. The APIN work concluded in June, 2017 but it was imperative that this work continue.

The National Education Progression in Nursing Collaborative (NEPIN) was formally launched in July, 2017 to accelerate educational advancement for nurses across the country. NEPIN’s diverse collaborative of stakeholders have joined to create urgency and national focus to identify, support and scale practices that advance BSN and higher nurse preparation. This collaborative is working to ensure that community colleges, universities and employers work in full collaboration to educate current and future nurses to the baccalaureate and beyond. NEPIN is new, but the organization’s goals emanate from APIN. Through the creation of a comprehensive national resource, dissemination of data, expansion of alliances, and promotion of successful methods, NEPIN  will broaden and build on the previous work of APIN.

NEPIN is partially funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to accelerate educational advancement for nurses across the United States. Leadership of the initiative includes the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing, National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers, and Western Governors University. With a mission of fostering collaboration to ensure that nurses have access to higher levels of education and achievement, the vision of NEPIN is a diverse nursing workforce that optimizes the health of all Americans.

As a member of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation APIN National Advisory Committee for the last five years, I know the accomplishments and understand the imperative need for continuation of this work. Accessibility to education leading to the baccalaureate degree and beyond is crucial to our healthcare system.

Some of the key components of the work include:

  • Identification and dissemination of consistent data collection metrics to monitor and evaluate results of education progression models, including metrics to evaluate diversity.
  • Centralization and dissemination of program components and outcomes with context to facilitate full understanding. In particular, identification of best practices of seamless academic progression between community college and university nursing programs.
  • Strengthened partnerships between nursing educators and employers to assure programs designed to meet workforce needs of the future.

The future of academic progression for nursing education is promising and OADN is honored to be one of the leads in this work for the future of healthcare in our country. I am hopeful that community colleges, universities, and clinical partners will embrace the NEPIN collaborative to enhance the healthcare for all communities. Learn more at:

Institute of Medicine (2011). The future of nursing: leading change, advancing health.
Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.