Policy, Politics and Nursing Practice
In 2001, a dedicated group of nurses from across Wisconsin came together to discuss how to create a state center of expertise on key nursing workforce issues. The result was the establishment of the Wisconsin Center for Nursing (WCN) in 2005. Since that time, through its statewide Board of Directors, WCN has clarified and targeted specific state workforce needs and identified gaps that exist in addressing those needs. During its five-year existence, WCN has received funding from a variety of sources, and volunteers have spent hundreds of hours working on behalf of the organization. Finding a sustainable base of funding for WCN has been a priority in order to ensure that the organization can hire permanent staff and invest in ongoing initiatives. In 2009, WCN was involved in developing a strategy that resolved both the issue of sustainability and the need to collect and analyze data on the nursing profession. A bill was passed by the Wisconsin legislature that required RNs and LPNs to complete a comprehensive survey every two years when they renew their state licenses. In addition, the legislature raised the licensure fee for RNs and LPNs and dedicated a portion to WCN to assist in the analysis of the newly-collected nursing workforce data and to develop a state-wide plan addressing the future of the Wisconsin nursing workforce. This article will include the history of the WCN and the details of its journey toward sustainability including accomplishments and lessons learned.