opening conference slide


Last month the Center partnered with the National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers to conduct a 3-day national conference “The Nursing Workforce & Health Reform: Trends and Opportunities in a New Political Era” in Denver, Colorado.

The conference brought together workforce researchers, state policy makers and analysts, and nursing groups to listen to more than 30 presentations on the following themes:


  • How new health reform implementation is affecting the nursing workforce
  • How nurses are impacting the evolution and implementation of health reform policies
  • Challenges and opportunities to strengthen the primary care workforce
  • The impact, contributions, and challenges confronting nurses in improving behavioral health
  • Understanding the critical need for nurses to understand value based payment and care delivery
  • Modeling the supply and demand of nurses
  • How must nursing workforce education change to best position nurses’ impact on improving health and creating value
  • State based initiatives aimed at increasing diversity and strengthening the health care workforce
  • “Late Breaking” session on current work/issues/projects


If you weren’t able to attend the conference or want to review the highlights, here are a few bullets summarizing the conference:

The event was well attended. Over 180 individuals from across the country attended the conference. Attendees heard 5 keynote presentations, over 30 cutting edge presentations and breakout sessions, viewed research posters displayed, and participated in activities designed to develop networking and collaboration.

The keynote sessions were relevant and timely. All of our keynote speakers did a wonderful job describing how health reform has and continues to impact the nursing workforce. Gail Wilensky kicked off the conference discussing the current healthcare reform climate and possible implications and opportunities for the workforce. Diana Mason discussed the challenges facing the primary care delivery system and how policy makers are turning to registered nurses to play expanding roles providing primary care.  Erin Fraher examined the purposes of health care forecasting and challenged participants to more explicitly build forecasts around the needs of the population being served. Angela Beck presented on the current state of the behavioral health workforce including the challenges and opportunities for behavioral health nurses.  Susan Reinhard reviewed progress on implementing the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine and challenges facing nurses. Finally, Betty Rambur concluded the conference with insights into health reform legislation, moves towards value based payment systems, and policy implications for nurses.

Breakout sessions. The biggest “complaint” we heard was that there were too many interesting presentations and break out sessions offered simultaneously! Indeed, the conference agenda covered diverse topics such as challenges facing the behavioral health workforce (and solutions), conflicting forecasting models and results on the future supply and demand of nurses, education trends, impact of the ACA/health reform on nurses an others –nurse practitioners, physicians, physician assistants, etc., state initiatives to improve the workforce, the value of nurses, etc. Presenters included individuals from all stakeholder groups: state workforce planners, analysts and researchers.

Overall, the national conference was a success and we have begun to examine the feasibility of convening a future conference in 2019.

We’d like to extend a big thank you to all of the sponsors of the event, especially to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for their generous support. We also offer our thanks to everyone who helped plan, attended and presented – the contributions you each brought to the event and the discussions were invaluable.   Finally, we want to give a bit shout out to the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence for their partnership.  Thanks to the Center, and all their wonderful people, this was one successful conference!


Peter Buerhaus and Christy Friedman


A few pictures from the meeting:

gail plenary talk denver conference


peter opening remarks


judi opening remarks


angela plenary