Marilyn Chow, RN, PhD, FAAN
Celebrating Our Past, Creating Our Future
This month, I retire from Kaiser Permanente after 16 wonderful, rich years in National Patient Care Services. As I reflect on these years, two strong emotions come to the fore. First, I have immense pride in the achievements and groundbreaking work of this organization, KP nursing and our nurses. Second, I’m extremely excited looking toward the future that lies before us.
When I arrived at KP in 2000, I was handed the torch of nursing leadership from some incredible nurse leaders before me. Over the ensuing years, we in KP nursing – oftentimes in partnership with internal and external teams and organizations – worked diligently in advancing the practice and culture of nursing and influencing health care at large.
Central to much of this work is Nursing Pathways, a framework launched in 2001 that has guided the strategic efforts of growing and better supporting KP nursing. Nursing Pathways was designed with our members, patients and their families at the center; in fact, some elements were built using the insights and voices of members themselves! Since its inception, this framework has served to align our program work, set out clear objectives and strategies, and enable many important initiatives, programs and projects that have improved the safe, high-quality care of our members and elevated the voice, skills and role of nurses as leaders and clinicians. I am proud that this work has improved not only the lives of our members, but also the professional lives of our nurses.
Looking to the future, that groundwork we laid will serve to create further successes. And none too soon. Health care today needs innovation, bright minds, strong spirits and big hearts. And that, we all know, is nursing!
Nurses, as 28 percent of the KP workforce and one of the largest clinician groups in health care, are uniquely positioned to help shape the future of health care. That future will leverage new technologies and digital platforms so that virtual care – anywhere, anytime – will become the norm and today’s boundaries separating “care settings” from where patients live, work and play will likely disappear. How exciting to think of the possibilities, the potential, and all the ways that we can adapt technology to improve care, empower nurses and meet members where they are. Having had the privilege of leading KP work in that intersection of innovation, technology and clinical care, I can say that that future is closer than we think, and that KP is leading the transformation of care delivery.
The role of nurses will also be different than it is today. As care shifts more and more from hospital to ambulatory and home settings, nurses will be needed in larger numbers and in expanded and new roles across the continuum. Here at KP, we are blessed to have talent, heart and passion in our nursing leadership and workforce of more than 53,000 nurses. These attributes, combined with their clinical expertise and excellence, ensure that nurses will continue making health care more person-centered, holistic and quality-driven. Together, we will help make the future of care delivery a healthier one for our members, patients and communities.
I am grateful for these years serving such a wonderful organization and community of nurses. It’s been an honor. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead – for nurses, nursing, KP and all the members and patients we serve every day. I ask you all to embrace the challenges and opportunities ahead, knowing there’s never been a stronger need for your voice, intellect and caring touch. I have faith that you all will continue to do amazing things.
To the KP nurses across our regions – it’s been the great joy of my career to serve and work with you. Thank you for all that you do every day. Thank you to my colleagues, teams, partners and the too-many-to-list passionate, committed individuals I’ve had the pleasure to work with these past years. My parting advice? Please remember to care for yourselves and each other as compassionately as you do our patients, and fill your well often!