Nurses taking action: origins of the Nurse Executive Council

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Jennifer Scully
Jennifer Scully

Almost a decade ago, a small group of long-term care nurse executives, representing several skilled nursing companies at that time, met for a day to provide support to one another, and to share “best practices” with a goal of improving quality care in their organizations.

Little did they know the future impact of this brief meeting on long-term care, or the influence of their collaborative efforts. Nor did they know they were closely following a famous quote from Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, on “nurses and taking action.” Nightingale once said, “I think one's feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.” And results is what the newly formed group was seeking.

The group, now called the “Nurse Executive Council,” or NEC, was initially formed as the “Senior Clinician Group” during the summer of 1999. Today, 10 years later, these nurse executives represent more than 3,100 nursing facilities across the nation. This dedicated and determined group of nurse executives is committed to making a difference through implementing well-planned and focused goals though their collaborative efforts.

The NEC holds meetings several times a year, as well as conducting interactive conference calls frequently throughout the year, and almost daily communication through its e-mail listserv.
Staying up to date

The council communicates regularly to one another on policy changes, updates to clinical practice, current trends in the regulatory or reimbursement environment, and more. They seek one another's advice on common or similar issues and share successes. Through their team approach, they are able to focus on the future while also staying abreast of the latest changes effecting long-term care.

Initially, the goal of the group, simply stated, was to create collaboration and provide uniform nursing leadership in the provision of care to the nation's elderly—specifically, those who reside in skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes. They believe that their experience in multi-facility, multi-state, clinical operations has given them a comprehensive foundation on which to influence profession stakeholders and future post-acute care leaders.
Over the years, the group has grown tremendously in size and influence, from the original five- or six-member council to more than 28 voting members, and an advisory council today.

Membership in the NEC is open to the nurse executive of long-term care organizations owning or managing 30 or more facilities in two or more states. Along with the membership growth, it has evolved into a high-functioning team using a productive and formalized approach. The Nurse Executive Council brings together a broad body of knowledge and expertise in an effort to provide solutions in an ever-changing environment.

The NEC has identified common areas of interest and has adopted three primary areas of focus with associated goals:

1. Workforce and leadership

• Build strong relationships and establish clinical communication forums to promote the sharing of their ideas, problem solving and expertise among nurse executives.

• Identify solutions for nursing leadership and workforce recruitment to the clinical field of study, and retention once in the profession.

2. Quality nursing practice

• Foster innovative solutions to the challenges in healthcare delivery faced by nursing, provider organizations, and other key stakeholders.

• Collaborate with professional organizations to endorse and disseminate best practices aimed at safe, effective and efficient care delivery models.

According to Barbara Baylis, RN, MSN, the council's current co-chair, “Collaboration with a professional organization allows the voice of nurses to be heard, and contributes to improving the quality of nursing practice in long-term care.”

3. Public policy

• Influence legislation and public policy to support regulation, reimbursement and nursing practice through collaboration with industry associations and professional organizations.

• Partner with key stakeholders to develop positive messaging and communication strategies for public dissemination related to the professionalism and clinical expertise of long-term care executives.

NEC members are exemplary nurse leaders as they support one another. They help prepare their organizations, other nurses and other caregivers for the future.

It is certain that the ‘founder' of nursing, Florence Nightingale, would proudly honor the members of the NEC as they take “actions which bring results”, while remaining focused on improving quality care to our nations' elderly.
For more information about the Nurse Executive Council (NEC) please contact Yvonne Rubright, RN, MSN co-chair, at

Scully, RN, BSN, NHA, is an original members of the NEC.