Jul 09, 2024

AARP, AACN Critical Care, and RWJF Name Recipients of 2024 Health Equity and Nursing Innovations Fund Awards

Grants Will Fund Strengthening Nursing Workforce and Healthy Work Environments

Contact: Mary Boyle, mboyle@aarp.org

AARP, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN Critical Care), and the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, an initiative of AARP Foundation, AARP, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, have awarded nearly $275,000 to 12 projects offering promising solutions to strengthen and diversify the nursing workforce through innovative nurse recruitment and retention strategies that establish and sustain healthy, equitable work environments.

Strengthening the workforce and sustaining healthy, equitable work environments are key to addressing a shortage that has already resulted in the loss of 100,000 registered nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic due to stress, burnout, and retirement. Another 600,000 nurses have reported intent to leave the workforce by 2027 – and the public is concerned.

A recent AARP Research Center survey showed that nearly all adults (98%) say that nurses are vital to the health and well-being of the nation and the vast majority (84%) recognize that the nursing shortage is critical and could negatively impact our population’s health. The same survey showed that 95% of adults believe more should be done to retain nurses and 96% say more should be done to recognize the value of nurses.

This award recognizes that if health equity is to be realized, and if people are going to live their healthiest lives, ongoing support is required to ensure a strong nursing workforce and healthy, equitable work environments across all care settings where nurses practice.

“The number of stressors on nurses keeps multiplying, and many of them have to do with the workplace itself,” said Susan C. Reinhard, PhD, RN, FAAN, chief strategist emeritus, Center to Champion Nursing in America, which runs the Campaign for Action. “Nurses are leaving the profession at alarming, unsustainable rates. These 12 projects are aimed at reversing this trend. We are optimistic they will lead to replicable strategies for healthier work environments and workforce recruitment and retention strategies.”

Antonia M. Villarruel, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor, and the Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, who chairs the Campaign’s Strategic Advisory Committee, said the following about the significance of the awards:

“Nurses are witnesses to or recipients of racism and discrimination in health care settings. Yet, nurses are in the best position to leverage their commitment, expertise, and leadership to address these issues for patients, families, and co-workers. Healthy, empowering, and safe work environments are critical to supporting nurses’ efforts to achieve health equity. Each of these projects holds promise for doing just that.”

Vicki Good, DNP, RN, CENP, CPPS, chief clinical officer for AACN Critical Care, said, “As the largest segment of the health care workforce, nurses are uniquely positioned to not only navigate today’s challenges, but to shape the future of health care. Healthy work environments are crucial to those efforts, with far-reaching benefits for patients, families, and communities.”

The funded projects are from California, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.

Read more about the projects and recipients.

The AARP Center for Health Equity through NursingSM administers the award program.

AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to the more than 100 million Americans 50-plus and their families: health security, financial stability, and personal fulfillment.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses is the world’s largest specialty nursing organization, with over 130,000 members and nearly 200 chapters in the United States. To achieve its vision of a health care system driven by the needs of patients and families, where nurses make their optimal contribution, AACN advocacy priority is to establish and sustain healthy work environments that support nursing excellence.

The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action is an initiative of AARP Foundation, AARP, and RWJF. Through its state Action Coalitions, the Campaign works with policymakers, health care professionals, educators, and business leaders to respond to the country’s increasing demand for safe, high-quality, and effective health care. The Campaign’s vision is that everyone in America can live a healthier life, advanced by equity-minded nurses as essential and valued partners in providing care and promoting health equity and well-being.