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Academic-Practice Partnerships: A Backbone for Improvement

The 2010 Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing Report generated a sense of urgency to strengthen nursing practice and directed attention to the future of nursing education. The goals outlined in this report, including the increase in the number of baccalaureate prepared nurses and implementation of nurse residency programs, require the collaboration between academic and practice leaders.Recognizing this need, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) partnered with the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) to form the AACN-AONE Task Force on Academic- Practice Partnerships (Beal, 2011).

Effective partnerships can lead to increased student and staff satisfaction and performance, enhanced research productivity, and improved patient outcomes (Beal, 2011). However, until recently, there has been little insight into best practices for building and maintaining academic-practice partnerships. To help guide institutions in this process, the AACN-AONE Task Force for Academic-Practice Partnerships identified eight principles that underlie the foundation of successful partnerships. Among these principles are mutual respect, mutual benefit, ongoing communication, and shared vision and knowledge (Beal, 2012).

The ISRN strongly supports collaboration between clinical and academic settings to advance nursing practice. The ISRN research collaboratives are based on some of the same principles identified by the AACN-AONE task force and can pave the way for future academic-practice partnerships. Clinically-based ISRN research associates who participate in these research collaboratives work closely with the academically-based ISRN Coordinating Center, which provides expert guidance in conducting research with the rigor needed to ensure the scientific process. The ISRN Coordinating Center helps guide sites in all stages of research implementation, from the IRB application process to data collection and analysis. The Coordinating Center and study sites share the same vision and goals (shared mental model) as they work together to answer specific research questions, such as identifying operational failures encountered by frontline nurses in the STAR-2 network study. In a recent report published by the ISRN Coordinating Center, the academic-practice partnership formed as part of the ISRN Network Studies provides the much needed support for local clinicians to successfully implement a scientifically rigorous protocol. Visit the website for more information on these academic-practice partnerships in action.

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Be a part of improvement research that is leading the way for healthcare redesign and better outcomes for patients. Engagement of ISRN members will be essential for Network Studies. If you are interested in collaborating, contact the ISRN at

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