Jonas Scholars Leadership Conference Unites 400 Nurse Leaders Tackling Major Healthcare Issues

NEW YORK, NY, November 2, 2017 – Jonas Scholars and industry leaders from across the country gathered near Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. for the biannual Jonas Scholars Leadership Conference—a meeting of the minds to discuss nurses’ integral role in tackling the major healthcare challenges of today and tomorrow—from the environmental health epidemic to veterans healthcare issues, and more. The conference was held Sunday, October 29 to Tuesday, October 31 and was hosted by the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare in partnership with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

More than 400 Doctoral Nursing Scholars from the latest Jonas Scholar cohort attended the three-day event. Launched in 2008, the Scholar Program is the largest initiative of its kind dedicated to eliminating the shortage of nursing faculty and to increase the number of advanced practice clinical nurses by preparing nurses with doctoral degrees to step into these critical leadership roles. Also in attendance were Scholars in the Jonas Veterans Healthcare Program, which helps expand the field of qualified caregivers committed to veterans needs, including mental health, traumatic brain injury, polytrauma, aging and women’s health. To date, the programs have supported more than 1,000 Scholars in all 50 U.S. states.

“What happens each year at the Scholars Conference is crucial to the nursing industry,” said Donald Jonas, co-founder of the Jonas Center. “Leaders not only connect and learn from one another, but engage in game-changing dialogue on issues in healthcare and health policy today. Nurses play a pivotal role in improving our country’s overall healthcare, and we’re so inspired to see how the Conference helps strengthen the nursing community.”

Expert panels addressed key issues facing the healthcare industry and nursing solutions:

  • “The Nursing Workforce: Strengths and Emerging Challenges in an Era of Uncertain National Health Reforms” discussed the tremendous growth in the nursing workforce and the value of nurses’ and nurse practitioners’ contributions to inpatient quality and safety. Key Learning: While the nursing workforce has tripled since 2002 and will continue to expand, the industry must aggressively prepare for the impending retirement of many experienced Baby Boomers by mentoring young nurse leaders and encouraging leadership development through education and research opportunities.
    • Speaker: Peter Buerhaus, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor of Nursing and Director, Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies, Montana State University
  • Our Toxic World: Transforming Chemical Policy to Protect the Health of the Most Vulnerable” discussed the scientific, clinical and policy perspectives surrounding environmental health, and how patient education and policy change can help protect the most vulnerable. Key Learning: In 2015 alone, environmental pollution caused 9 million premature deaths worldwide [1] – three times more than death resulting from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined, and 15 times more than war or all forms of violence. Panelists discussed research opportunities, as well as the critical role nurses play in educating patients on the dangers that come from daily exposure to pollutants. To help guide patient conversations, panelists shared resources from the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, Healthcare Without Harm, and the Environmental Working Group.
    • Panelists included:
      • Laura Anderko, PhD, RN, Director, Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment and Professor, Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies
      • Ken Cook, President and Co-founder, Environmental Working Group
      • Tracey Woodruff, PhD, MPH, Director, Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment at University of California, San Francisco
      • Moderator Lisa Simpson, MB, BCH, MPH, FAAP, President and CEO, Academy Health
  • The American Nurse: On the Front Lines of Healthcare,” hosted by Director and nurse advocate Carolyn Jones, provided a new perspective on the profession by the volume of nurses’ voices in America. For five years, Jones immersed herself in the everyday life of nurses. Inspired by innate traits she observed in nurses, including transparency, thirst for knowledge, the mindset that “everybody deserves care,” and bravery, she documented her experiences and findings in her book and film The American Nurse, and new documentary Defining Hope.

The 2017 Jonas Scholars Leadership Conference was made possible in part through the generous support from the Cornell Douglas Foundation, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, the University of Texas Arlington College of Nursing and Health Innovation, and many more. To see a full list of sponsors, please visit