The future of associations may very well lie in their potential to lead widespread learning and change for the profession or industries they serve. And who wouldn’t want the opportunity to move the dial and create a positive impact beyond the scope of what we, as associations and leaders in the business of lifelong learning, have been able to do in the past?
This is something Marla Weston, CEO of the American Nurses Association (ANA), has already had a chance to experience first-hand through the creation of Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation. The initiative focuses on a Grand Challenge aimed at large-scale social change by working to improve the health of the nation through the improved health of over 3.6 million registered nurses — and it’s tied directly to their mission.
In this episode of the Leading Learning podcast Celisa talks with Marla about the creation and future of Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation, the role that education and learning plays in the program, and how she balances it with other initiatives offered to members.
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[00:20] – Thank you to Avilar, which as the sponsor of our upcoming Webinar, LMS Selection: Mastering the Process, Avoiding the Pitfalls is also the sponsor of this episode of the Leading Learning podcast.
[00:53] – A preview of what will be covered in this podcast where Celisa interviews Marla Weston, CEO of the American Nurses Association (ANA) about their Grand Challenge initiative, Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation. Note that we recently interviewed Shlomy Kattan of XPRIZE around his ogranization’s work with Grand Challenges and also published a blog post on the topic of large scale learning and change.
[03:09] – Introduction to Marla and some background information about ANA and her role there as CEO.
[04:33] – ANA’s mission is “Nurses advancing our profession to improve health for all.” What role does learning play in ANA’s work and how do you see education and learning fit in with your overall organizational mission and strategy? Marla explains that their core work is in two areas: advocacy and professional development. In thinking about this in terms of their mission, she says they need to advocate for the professional practice of nursing so the full knowledge and expertise of nurses is utilized to improve the health of the nation. And because we live in a dramatically changing healthcare environment, Marla emphasizes that professional development and learning is fundamentally core to what they do.
[06:28] – Would you tell us about what Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation is? Marla starts by first defining a Grand Challenge as, looking to address and improve an intractable problem that society has been facing by aggregating together like-minded people to move all in the same direction to make improvements in this intractable problem. She points out that if you replace the word “Grand Challenge” with “association”, that it would fit as well because associations are also groups of like-minded people working together to make improvements. She explains how they went back to ANA’s mission, and started with “improve health for all”. They found that nurses are less healthy than the average American and there is clearly a gap between knowing and doing that they needed to fill in the nursing population. Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation is aimed at large-scale social change improving the health of the nation by leveraging registered nurses and improving their health.
[10:07] – What was the impetus behind coming up with the idea/signing on to this notion of a Grand Challenge? Marla discusses how they had been through some significant internal work in the association (e.g. Race for Relevance) and they felt like they were in a good place so they looked back at their mission to look at how they could make an impact and really improve health for all. That’s when they began learning about Grand Challenges and they spent a lot of time looking at other large social changes and how those changes happened.
[11:54] – What is the timeline for Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation? Marla says they have been working on this for about 18 months where they first studied how large scale social change happens and created of an advisory and steering committee group comprised of people who were able to make large scale social change. They then outlined a process/plan that would engage individuals, people in interpersonal relationships, and organizations, which Marla says is important because you have to engage people at multiple levels. She adds that they recently went through a beta test to understand how this is working and they are now preparing to scale the program up in 2017. She says they aren’t thinking of this as an initiative but rather a change in how they do their work, so it will continue until the nation is healthy.
[14:35] – Can you talk about what the role of education and learning are in terms of Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation? Marla explains that it is all in the space of learning but clarifies that nurses didn’t need content related to being healthy, but rather they needed to know how to fill the knowing-doing gap. So, ANA had to look at the factors that make change happen. They also looked at how to simultaneously utilize the traditional methods of learning and how to embed learning in everyday activities. Marla shares how they have been using social media and piloting #fitnursefriday as way to give a tidbit of learning and engage nurses in conversations around a topic area and she shares a few examples of this.
[18:16] – When you think about the impact that you want Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation to have, how do you go about defining that impact and then measuring your progress towards having that impact? Marla admits that this has been one of the more complicated factors for them to figure out, largely because health is so multidimensional. She says they partnered with Harvard and other nurse researchers to help them figure out how to best measure impact on nurse’s health over time. They have identified a simple survey nurses can take where they can get a single number that is a measure of health and this could be tracked over time. Marla adds that they recognize this is a measure that is going to take a long time to move the needle on so they identified a number of metrics in order to first measure engagement and involvement.
[20:22] – How do you balance engaging in Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation with the more operational work and responsibilities that ANA has to its members? Marla reveals a couple things that have been helpful, including having a project manager to ensure they stay on track and organized. They have also looked at how they can integrate the initiative into their existing work. A couple years ago, ANA began creating a theme for the year and in 2017 the theme is going to be Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation – so everything they already do as part of operations will be looked at and offered with this lens.
[23:51] – What lessons have you learned about leading large-scale change that you think might be helpful to others? Marla shares two things that really helped drive them forward including:
- Engaging with different partners than they had in the past, which helped to generate new learning and energy. She encourages thinking beyond your normal boundaries of your stakeholders.
- Operating at the edge of their comfort zone, but knowing that this is the future of how associations are going to be work and be successful. She emphasizes that it’s ok to learn as you are going and to be patient with yourself as you get in that space.
[26:40] – How do you approach to your own lifelong learning/how do you keep learning and growing your knowledge and skills? Marla admits that one of the ways she grows her knowledge/skills is by doing work like this at the edge of her comfort zone, so basically, learning in action. She also believes in thinking about how the world is going to look in the future and then doing things to prepare for that – in her case that was getting an iWatch. Marla adds that it’s important to find time to do traditional continuing education programs because there’s always something powerful about stopping and investing in your own learning.
[28:30] – How to learn more about Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation and ANA:
[29:04] – Wrap-Up
Thanks again to Avilar for sponsoring of this episode of the Leading Learning podcast.
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[30:31]- Sign off