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The New Nursing Section of the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM): A Rich Opportunity for Interprofessional Collaboration

Today’s healthcare teams are no longer made up of members from single disciplines because, as we know, patients’ needs are complex and interconnected. Hospitals and community based care demands that the knowledge required to deliver quality healthcare comes from various specialists, well beyond physician centric approaches. Professionals who are able to work and thrive in these environments need education that incorporates how team-based collaboration should occur. The call for interprofessional education (IPE) to promote interprofessional collaboration from the Institute of Medicine is not new. Their report in 1972 “Educating for the Health Team” (IOM, 1972) promoted more team-based education for U.S. health professions. Over the past 40 plus years, numerous meetings and reports followed.

The conversation continues with efforts from the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC) and organizations including the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) who are calling for the opportunities to prepare the contemporary healthcare workforce with interprofessional education strategies (see IPEC Report). The IOM recently released another report (2015), “Measuring the Impact of Interprofessional Education (IPE) on Collaborative Practice and Patient Outcomes” that recommends measures and expected outcomes “downstream” at the patient care delivery end. This report, along with others, offers recipes and exemplars for building collaboratives with members from multiple health professionals.

But teams and collaboratives only emerge when professionals share in a collective set of objectives. And the need for interprofessional organizations where members work in tandem toward achieving health goals for the public grows. One such organization, the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM), has been directing a choir of 16 groups of professionals, from medicine to social work, who share in the song of improving urban health. This year, NYAM Board of Trustees approved the new Nursing Section, one of now 17 formalized groups of professionals The Nursing Section has already begun to make its mark in this interprofessional organization.

Connie Vance, EdD, RN, FAAN a distinguished member of the American Academy of Nursing and Professor Emerita at the College of New Rochelle, has assumed the leadership role as Chairperson for the Nursing Section of NYAM. She answered our “3 questions” about the structure and potential of nursing’s impact on promoting urban health as a recognized section within this prestigious organization. We welcome your comments or questions.

Veronica D. Feeg, PhD, RN, FAAN

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Connie Vance


Connie Vance, EdD, RN, FAAN

Professor Emerita at the College of New Rochelle, NY

Chairperson for the Nursing Section of NYAM



Question 1. Can you tell us about the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) as an organization and the priorities of the Academy? What makes NYAM a good organization for nursing?
To listen, click here.

The New York Academy of Medicine is a very interesting historical organization. It was founded over 168 years ago in 1847 by a group of physicians who felt that some of the public health issues of urban life should be addressed in a broader format. So, with all that long history, the current membership of NYAM consists of Fellows, members and graduate students. Currently there are over 2,000 Fellows. These are from Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, Social Work, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Academia and Research.

What makes it, I think, very unique is its true interprofessional organization that engages in interdisciplinary approaches to really address serious problems and issues in urban health. And for nursing it is an ideal organization for us to work with these other distinguished professionals, and to bring our particular voice, perspective, [and] values to this work. Actually the priorities of NYAM are very much in tune with nursing’s values. Certainly:

(1) To promote health and prevent disease;

(2) To create environments that promote health, particularly health aging;

(3) To eliminate health disparities and really promote health of vulnerable populations.

All of these three are certainly in tune with nursing’s values and mission.

A fourth one is using the wonderful Academy library which is a very distinguished resource for health professionals. It promotes the heritage of public health and medicine and other health professionals.


Question 2. Can you describe the new Nursing Section of NYAM and how it fits into the work of the Academy?

To listen, click here.

Currently, Nursing (in May) was approved by the Board of Trustees to become the 17th Section. The work of the Academy is done in sections where there’s focused activity on certain key areas of interest. There [are] also [several] special interest groups, [including]: long-term care, primary care, population health, and then there’s an ethics network. There [are] other sections like: evidence based health care; health care delivery; social work has a section; emergency medicine; and so forth.

So, we feel very fortunate to have become a formalized section. Nursing has been a presence for many years in the Academy. There were nurses serving on the Board of Trustees in various sections. But the fact that now this has been formalized is very, very special. And the President, Dr. Jo Ivey Boufford and Executive Vice President, Tony Shih have been enormously supportive and engaging in make sure that we get the appropriate staff support. That is going very well.


Question 3. What is the structure of the Nursing Section and what new exciting developments can we expect to happen in the upcoming months?

To listen, click here.

There are four officers; there’s [eight advisers who are renowned nursing leaders], and then we have agreed to work in five task forces. Our first very exciting initiative is an educational launch of three public lectures beginning in Fall of 2015 with a grant of 25 thousand dollars from the Jonas Center for Nursing. Dr. Darlene Curley, a nurse who is the Executive Director of the Jonas Foundation has been enormously supportive and strong advocate of this new section. So on October 6th the first public and professional workshop is on technology in the classroom. The second one will be held in Spring on end of life and palliative care. And the third one in the Fall will be vision and blindness in aging.


Additional Follow-up: Can you discuss the future possibilities for the Nursing Section in NYAM?

To listen, click here.

ABSOLUTELY! First of all, we want to continue to be formally integrated. [There is a] a nurse on the Board of Trustees and on the [NYAM] Awards committee, and [nursing co-chairs serve on other sections]. We are nominating and having accepted more and more Fellows, members and students into the Academy from the nursing profession, we now have over a hundred Fellows. One initiative is to increase our numbers and presence.

This is a great forum for interprofessional collaboration, networking, mentoring for peer learning and support. So, through these public and professional lectures, we can do that. I see us attempting to draw in many more nursing graduate students to have them engage with us in educational projects, in research studies so that there can be mutual mentoring. We want to spread our voice and perspective through all of the other 16 sections. There are nurses currently serving as co-chairs. But we have been also approached by various sections seeking our membership – all of those things are important.

I think that also we want to engage and join in some of the scholarships and grant work, some of the new initiatives in data collection. The Academy is launching a new data collection-access, to access databases with the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene – so nurses can jump into that.

In conclusion, I do believe that this is a moment of great opportunity for nurses and the nursing profession that we can exert our leadership. [We have enormous talent and leadership in nursing]. Now is the time to use that leadership within this truly active interdisciplinary interprofessional organization so that we can make a difference in urban health, education, policy and research.