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Boise State University Hosts the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Conference

Boise State University Colleges of Business and Economics and Health Sciences partner to host the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Conference: The Campaign for Action Pillars to Create a Healthier America.

The RWJF is the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated to health and provides as much as half a billion dollars in support of community-based health interventions each year. Since 1972, they have supported research and programs targeting some of America’s most pressing health issues and have been the catalyst for transformative progress in health outcomes.

On June 28, approximately 100 representatives for the RWJF flew to Boise from across the United States to attend a conference focused on the future of nursing and creating a sustainable culture of health in American communities. Idaho was selected as one of three host states as a result of outstanding work submitted by the Idaho Alliance of Leaders in Nursing and the Idaho Nursing Action Coalition. The coalition recently completed a two-year grant from the RWJF for academic progression in nursing to promote registered nurses completion of baccalaureate degrees. Through multiple creative projects including post-licensure RN to BS completion and a pre-licensure dual enrollment of community college nursing students in a BS program, Idaho experienced an increase in the BS nursing workforce from 54 percent to 67 percent. Further increases are expected with the completion of the 2017 nurse re-licensure cycle. With leadership from the Boise State School of Nursing, Idaho is among the most successful in the nation at assisting the nursing workforce to complete baccalaureate education.

“Selecting Boise State for the conference was an honor for us and we seized the opportunity to position our programs for future investment from the RWJF,” said Tim Dunnagan, dean of the College of Health Sciences.

The two-day conference featured panels and expert talks coordinated and arranged by Dunnagan and Ken Petersen, dean of the College of Business and Economics. A panel comprised of faculty and students highlighted BroncoFit and the Blue Sky Institute. Perspectives from community partners with representatives from local healthcare providers and payers including Saint Alphonsus Health System, Blue Cross of Idaho, Interfaith Sanctuary, and St. Luke’s Health Partners highlighted our unique and powerful ability to leverage community leaders for positive health outcomes. These efforts served to demonstrate the close working relationships and goal sharing Boise State enjoys with community stakeholders. The College of Business and Economics shared their work on sustainability, which was recently recognized by the United Nations, and also highlighted the growing partnership with Interfaith Sanctuary. In addition to these pertinent speakers and topics, the colleges provided three meals per day, transportation, a guided walk around the Blue Turf and a reception in the Stueckle Sky Center that RWFJ leadership remarked was the best reception they could remember.

“Very few universities have an opportunity to engage with leaders from a foundation of this magnitude and we took full advantage of the chance to show off both our university and our community,” said Dunnagan. Based on the feedback we received, they were more than impressed at the work we are doing and the care we illustrate for each other and our surroundings. The evening reception, in particular, was a high point for the conference. We did not know this before, but one of the primary evaluation criteria that the RWJF executives use to determine if a host site was successful is whether or not the host uses the conference to build and strengthen existing partnerships and relationships within their communities. For them to be greeted at the reception by representatives from the City of Boise, the Saint Alphonsus Health System, St. Luke’s, SelectHealth, Blue Cross of Idaho, the Department of Health and Welfare, the Idaho Hospital Association, Preventative Health Screenings, business leaders, and representatives from every level at Boise State; they clearly saw that we took full advantage of the honor of hosting them.”