The Utah Action Coalition for Health serves as the driving force for the implementation of the IOM report recommendations in our state. We are especially focused on increasing the education level of nurses, providing residency training for new nurses, removing barriers to practice and care, developing leaders and leadership opportunities, and collaborating to design new models of community-based care.


The Utah Action Coalition for Health brings together many of the state’s strongest leaders in improving health care quality, access and affordability. The Utah Organization of Nurse Leaders (UONL) and HealthInsight formed a new partnership to lead the coalition. The group’s leadership circle brings together a diverse group of state health care leaders, including Intermountain HealthCare, Department of Professional Licensing of the State Board of Nursing, Utah Department of Health, University of Utah Health Sciences, Utah Hospitals and Health Systems Association, Utah Association for Community Health and AARP Utah.

The Action Coalition for Health has begun work on a variety of initiatives including successfully encouraging the director of the Utah Medicaid Office to expand reimbursement for all advanced practice registered nurses. The coalition also plans to create more seamless educational pathways from entry level to doctoral education and increase the percentages of both baccalaureate and doctorally prepared nurses.

To facilitate its work, the coalition has established two work groups: Education and Practice and Leadership and Collaboration.

View RN workforce data from the Utah Medical Education Council (UMEC)

Utah's Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Workforce, 2013 is now available online. It can be accessed here: http://www.utahmec.org/uploads/files/112/2013APRNReport.pdf



Nursing education in Utah is comprised of seven long-standing state-supported schools, two long-standing private schools and nine new proprietary programs.  A recent survey of nursing programs indicated that of the 1,292 new nurse graduates produced each year 72 percent are prepared at the associate degree level and 28 percent are baccalaureate prepared.  Last year, 308 associate degree prepared nurses returned to school to complete their baccalaureate degree in nursing.   

Deans and Directors from all nursing programs in Utah have committed to work together to:
  • Work with high school counselors to increase understanding of different programs leading to an RN, and need for BS degree to advance in nursing.
  • Provide information on educational and career pathways to enter nursing (i.e., programs that offer RN-BS and requirements for admission).
  • Provide yearly data on nursing program relevant to workforce information (such as # of applicants, # of students enrolled, # of students graduating, # of students that go on for BS or graduate education in nursing).
  • Develop strategies for seamless and rapid transition for educational progression: 1) RN-BS and 2) BS to graduate degrees.
  • Participate on task force to explore state-wide equivalencies for GE courses and nursing prerequisites.
  • Develop and disseminate a document to describe various nursing programs (undergraduate and graduate including GE courses and Pre-requisites) available in the state.
  • Educate students regarding graduate degree options and encourage them to pursue graduate study.
  • Develop strategies for capturing data regarding students/graduates who have gone on for graduate studies at own or other institutions.



Nurses bring a unique, important perspective to health care, higher education, business and policy leadership. Yet at the moment, nurses are underrepresented as leaders in all industries, in Utah and across the country. 

Working closely with the Utah Organization of Nurse Leaders, we share the goal of “innovation and cultivation of excellence in nursing leadership”.  Initial steps involve creating an inventory of current nursing leadership positions in Utah and projecting a list of additional leadership opportunities for nurses that will result in a leadership gap analysis. In addition,  we are focusing on preparing nurses for leadership roles.  We plan to collect data on current opportunities for leadership development throughout the state and to develop a plan for further leadership development programs and activities. 


Laws and Medicaid reimbursement regulations can hamper access to high quality care provided by advanced practice registered nurses. This is especially important as our need for primary care services is expanded.

Transition to practice programs vary throughout the state with limited access to formal, evidenced-based, year residency programs for new RNs entering practice.  


In Utah the National Council of State Boards of Nursing Consensus Model for APRN Regulation has been adopted and many restraints on APRN practice have been addressed.  However, supervision of Psychiatric NP graduates remains an issue as well as the categories or types of APRN that can receive Medicaid reimbursement. The VA Medical Center has initiated a formal 12 month RN residency for new baccalaureate graduates.  In order to implement IOM recommendation #3: Nurse Residency Program statewide, Deans and Educators throughout Utah will work with the Chief Nurse Executives to form fine new RN Program Partnerships to develop innovative “transition to practice” models. These innovative education practice partnerships will provide an opportunity for academically-based nurse faculty to work closely with clinically-based nurse educators and administrators to facilitate optimal learning and better coordinate and build upon pre-licensure learning experiences with entry to practice programs.  The statewide implementation program will focus of the following three primary goals:
  • Increase the number of formalized, evidence-based, year long, residency programs (from 1 to 6) in Utah supporting registered nurses in the transition into practice. 
  • Ensure consistency and quality in Utah residency program curriculum, implementation and evaluation.  
  • Increase gender and ethnic diversity of new RN graduates that have access to RN Residency Programs. 


Interprofessional Collaboration

To ensure high quality, patient-centered care, nurses, physicians and other health professionals must collaborate in education and practice, and across all health care settings. 

We are building partnerships with diverse stakeholders, including physicians and other health providers, to support, spread and implement models of interprofessional collaboration in education and practice


Utah’s population is becoming increasingly more diverse, and many residents have unique health care needs. The nursing workforce must evolve to reflect these changing dynamics. 


We will work with our colleagues throughout the state to communicate the value of diversifying the nursing workforce to reflect the state’s population, while also looking to other successful programs as models for implementation. 


Effective deployment of the health care workforce requires information – data to tell us what kind of health providers we will need and with what skills. Yet major gaps exist in the workforce data we now have.

We are exploring partnerships and examining models from other states to develop a plan for data collection in our state. Once developed, we will work to promote data-driven policy decisions that improve health care for patients and families in Utah.





Maureen Keefe, RN, PhD, FAAN, Utah Organization of Nurse Leaders Board of Directors, and University of Utah College of Nursing Dean

Juliana Preston, Executive Director, HealthInsight Utah

Joan Gallegos, RN, CSW, Project Coordinator, HealthInsight Utah

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