Patricia A. Polansky, RN, MS, is co-director of the Center to Champion Nursing in America, a joint initiative of the AARP, the AARP Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In this capacity, she leads the effort to progress education, leadership, policy, outreach strategies and communications for the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a nationwide campaign geared toward transforming healthcare through nursing.
This is one of the highlights of my career, she said.
Before her current role, Polansky served as executive director of the New Jersey Board of Nursing and was assistant commissioner for the Division of Aging and Community Services in the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, where she said she was able to develop a national agenda for real systems change in home- and community-based healthcare.
She ran programs designed to provide support for the states 1.5 million elderly residents, allowing them to maintain their independence and dignity and remain in their communities.
We had 10 grants from the federal government and CMS and many of those models have been incorporated into the Affordable Care Act and were in the stimulus package as well, she said.
Polansky is considered an expert on aging and long-term issues and is a past president of the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities. With all of her achievements, she still credits her time in executive leadership roles at the hospital level as having a huge impact on her career.
One of the highlights was being among the first Magnet hospitals in the country, she said. It was back in the 80s during the worst nursing shortage we ever had and we were one of only 41 hospitals in the United States to earn the designation.
She also has worked in academia as an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, The University of Pennsylvania, NYU and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
Among the rewards she has received are the (N.J.) Governors Nursing Merit Award and the outstanding alumna designation from the University of Pennsylvanias College of Nursing.
There is an endless number of people, both in and outside nursing, who asked me to serve on boards, on committees, on task forces, those who recommended me to sit on panels or healthcare development back in the day, she said. I am extremely grateful to them for allowing me the opportunity to lead and to use my talent and skills.
Tracey Boyd is a regional reporter.
Editors note: In recognition of the 25th anniversary of Nurse.com, the magazine will celebrate 25 key members of the New York/New Jersey nursing community in 2013.