Dr. Edna Cadmus, PhD, RN, NEA BC, FAAN, is the Executive Director of the New Jersey Collaborating Center for Nursing (NJCCN) and Co-Director of the New Jersey Action Coalition (NJAC), a program of the Campaign for Action of the Center to Championing Nursing in America (CCNA). Cadmus is also a Clinical Professor and Specialty Director-Leadership Track at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, College of Nursing. She is dedicated to and contributes to leveraging nurses’ leadership capacity in transforming healthcare environments, through practice and policy.

Cadmus believes that this pandemic has proven that these “uncertain times requires us to lead and to be visible.  As the Executive Director of the New Jersey Collaborating Center for Nursing (NJCCN) (our state’s workforce center), it is important to understand the dynamics of what is happening across settings to assist the nursing workforce and ultimately the consumers. In our state there were two areas of advocacy where we have played a role. They included a focus on the new graduate and the APN.  As there are issues with availability of testing sites for the NCLEX exam it was important that new graduates be able to practice. In our state there was not an option for a graduate nurse permit. Working collaboratively with the NJBON, nursing professional organizations, and the Commissioner of Health and executive order by the Governor was issued. This provided the new graduate with the ability to get hired before taking the NCLEX under a permit. We also provided a portal for new graduates and organizations across settings to post jobs so that the new graduate could go to one site to see what positions were available. There were also barriers to access to care due to the restrictions placed on APN licensure. That barrier was also eliminated by an executive order. One additional area of significant concern is the long term care setting. A report has been generated on some of the short and long term issues that face us. This is an area where nursing leaders can make a difference in helping address chronic issues in these settings.  Advocating for a seat at the table is one of the initiatives we are focused on.”

Cadmus states, “I believe the biggest challenges for nursing will be trying to work through the stress they accumulated through the pandemic. This is of major concern. Initiatives are underway in our state not only to understand the aftermath of this pandemic but to provide support and self-care strategies to assist them. Resilience is going to be an important area for us to study. The other challenge is the uncertainty of the type of second wave COVID-19 will bring. Many nurses have shared this anxiety which is of real concern. Now is the time to prepare for this challenge. Also, academe and practice settings must work together to help our future nurses succeed in this changing world.”

When thinking about critical action steps nurses must engage in, Cadmus says, “Nurses need to leverage their visibility and the trust they have from the public to make changes in the healthcare system. Now is the time for nurses to engage and not sit back and hope others will fix the problems we have seen. These include focusing on the determinants of health and how they impact our patients and communities. Working with professional organizations and legislators can help nurse’s voices be heard. Also, looking at practices that worked during this period and integrating them into the new normal.  Being engaged in committees in your organization are important avenues for change.”

Cadmus is passionate about elevating and empowering nurses to engage and act so that we do not go backwards after proving our value. Cadmus states, “APN practice across the country should allow them to work to the full extent of their licensure. Many states have lifted restrictions, let’s not go backward. We should evaluate and build off the positive changes we have made during this pandemic. Nurses need to be vocal and engaged.