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Summer 2005

Second Annual CHP Alumni Week: Michigan’s Chief Nursing Executive addresses ‘Nursing Agenda’

Chief Nursing Executive of Michigan Jeanette Wrona Klemczak ’65 with CHP Dean Suzanne Mellon

The College of Health Professions extends its appreciation to the following alumni who spoke to classes as part of CHP’s Alumni Week activities, Feb. 21-25:

  • Nancy Dillon ’71, St. John Home Care
  • Kathy Degrandis ’0
  • Mike Dosch ’87, assistant professor and chair, Nurse Anesthesiology Program, UDM
  • Kristyn Gall ’95, Beaumont Hospita
  • Jeanette Wrona Klemczak ’65, Chief Nursing Executive, State of Michigan
  • Allen Lindsey ’91, PA, Aleda E. Lutz Veteran Affairs Medical Center
  • Constance Norwood ’01, ’03, Supervisor, Health Information Management, St. John Riverview Hospital
  • Paulette Ray ’01, ’03, Pharmaceutical Representative, Pfizer
  • Tyra Tomlin ’04, Marketing Representative, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital
  • Jennifer Well ’03, Hospice of Michigan

 

Alumni from a variety of health care fields participated in the College of Health Professions’ Alumni Week, Feb. 21 to 25, providing students an opportunity to learn more about current health care issues and practices from active alumni practitioners. Jeanette Wrona Klemczak ’65, Michigan’s chief nursing executive, was the week’s keynote speaker. Appointed to her position by Governor Jennifer M. Granholm in September 2004, Klemczak discussed “Michigan’s Nursing Agenda” and her role as the chief nursing advocate on Feb. 21 in Architecture’s Genevieve Loranger Exhibition Room. In creating the position, Governor Granholm, “brought nursing to the table” for decision making on health care policy, explains Klemczak. This includes the responsibility to address the shortage of health care workers, especially nurses. According to Klemczak, 75 percent of hospital position vacancies are nurses, with an expected shortfall of 5,000 nurses in Michigan by 2010.

Although the Michigan legislature has created more nursing scholarships to help reduce the nursing shortage, Klemczak notes that nursing programs are unable to accept increased numbers of nursing students due to the lack of faculty and limited clinical placements for students. Clinical facilities are also a barrier for some nursing programs, although Klemczak says she is “glad to see all the wonderful labs here,” in UDM’s new Health Professions facility.

To address the nursing shortage and other impediments to quality health care, Klemczak contributes her nursing perspective on health care policy and legislation of nursing practice. Such areas of focus include nurse staff ratios and mandatory overtime, nurse education, and nurse licensing. As chief nursing executive for Michigan, Klemczak says she can provide leadership on critical issues affecting patient safety, health care quality, and emerging technology and innovation.

In addition to nursing education, workforce shortage, licensure regulation and workplace issues, Klemczak’s nursing agenda also includes efforts to:

Klemczak also recommends that all nurses become more involved in the political process to affect future decisions by policy makers. “Nurses are an incredible, powerful force,” she says. “In the last election, one in 44 voters were nurses. Health care plays an important role in Michigan’s economy. It’s the largest industry in Michigan—larger than the auto industry.“So it’s very important that the nurse perspective is represented in the decision making process,” adds Klemczak. “The core of nursing and nursing practice is advocating for patients, legislation, and access to health care—it’s at the heart of what nursing is all about.”