This article summarizes a three-credit graduate clinical nurse leader (CNL) course, Foundations of Health Systems and Policy, at Georgetown University’s School of Nursing for second-year CNL students during COVID-19. The course implements innovative policy education approaches that support the creation of a unique graduate nurse clinician that can help address the critical nursing workforce and healthcare equity challenges using horizontal and vertical leadership strategies. Using Ignatian pedagogy as a foundation and incorporating various experiential learning methods, including client-based stakeholder policy analysis, Foundations of Health Systems and Policy prepares CNLs to competently contribute to local, state, and national healthcare system reforms and address a myriad of traumatic healthcare shocks.
Emma Kurnat-Thoma is a Nurse Scientist and Adjunct Associate Professor at Georgetown University's School of Nursing with 24 years of experience. She performed policy analysis for the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary's Advisory Committee on the Genetics, Health, and Society Genetics Education and Training Task Force. Emma was a 2009 White House Fellows Program Regional Finalist and a Customs and Border Protection nurse consultant. Emma's National Institute of Nursing Research Postdoctoral Intramural Research Training Award supported precision medicine, U.S. COVID-19 vaccine response, and the opioid epidemic for which she received the Fellowship of the American Academy of Nursing award. She earned a BSN in Nursing from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Nursing from the University of Utah.