Director of UNC Charlotte’s School of Nursing (SON) Dena Evans has been appointed to the Board of the North Carolina Future of Nursing Action Coalition (NCFONAC), which will play a leading role in determining the future of nursing in the state. The NCFONAC is a statewide coalition whose goal is to implement changes in the nursing profession that advance health equity in the U.S. through community partnerships. They collaborate with nurses, health providers, consumers, educators and businesses.
The Board is made up of leaders that represent a wide cross-section of public and private life, including education, clinical practice, and administration.
“Healthcare is undergoing a transition,” said Evans. “More and more, it is taking place in the community, so the coalition is engaging a range of community partners to look at the nursing profession globally.”
Nurses in the U.S. make up the largest segment of the healthcare workforce. By harnessing the power of the nursing profession, the NCFONAC aims to transform healthcare in the state and make public health and healthcare systems work for everyone.
The initiative began in 2011, when the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, in partnership with the National Academy of Medicine, conducted a comprehensive study and published their findings in The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.
The report charts a path forward for the nursing profession in the 21st century. It details how nurses’ roles, responsibilities, and education should change to keep up with the increasing challenges in America’s healthcare system.
In May of 2021, an updated report was published called The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity.
“The updated report recognizes the important role that nurses play in health, education, and the community. Therefore, the report provides detailed recommendations for policy makers and system leaders to empower the nursing profession to advance health equity,” said Evans.
In support of the Future of Nursing report, the NCFONAC focuses on issues such as improving access to care; increasing diversity in nursing; transforming nursing education; fostering interprofessional collaboration; promoting nursing leadership; and collecting workforce data.
“We saw nurses out in the community during the pandemic, collaborating with others to provide access to care, leading efforts to establish field hospitals, and traveling to other states to address nursing shortages. We also saw flexibility from policy makers regarding long-standing rules and regulations that govern what nurses could and could not do, which expanded access to healthcare during a critical time in history,” said Evans.
Because nurses are woven into the fabric of the community—in hospitals, homes, workplaces, and other community spaces—they are in a unique position to meet the demands of America’s healthcare systems and advance health equity.
They also spend the greatest amount of time delivering patient care and have valuable insights to contribute as partners.
“Most people don’t fully understand what nurses do,” said Evans. “Nursing is the largest healthcare profession. Therefore, the NCFONAC’s strategy is to advocate for needed changes that will allow for the transformation of healthcare through nursing.”
Evans will serve on the board as advancement co-chair, helping lead the committee that secures funding to help achieve the organization’s goals.
Evans, who has served as director of the School of Nursing since 2017, was selected for her leadership experience, financial acumen and work with diverse populations.
She has spent much of her career dismantling barriers to success for disadvantaged and underrepresented students. The theme of her leadership has focused on strategies to enhance opportunities for these students in order to maximize their success and create a more diverse workforce.
Over her career, she has secured over 3.4 million dollars in funding to support her research.
“It’s important for UNC Charlotte to be represented on a board that’s going to make recommendations to improve the health of the entire state,” Evans said. “It’s important to the School of Nursing, faculty, students, and graduates, because it exemplifies the collective power of the profession to lead and advocate for change that is in the best interests of society.”