The story of the creation of the ND Center for Nursing begins in 2001 when a group of nurse stakeholders including the ND Board of Nursing and the North Dakota Nurses Association worked with several state legislators to introduce House Bill #1360 to provide for the creation and funding of a North Dakota Center for Nursing. The legislation would address issues of supply and demand for nurses, including issues of recruitment, retention and utilization of nurses. This bill was revised during the legislative session to provide for the North Dakota Nursing Needs Study. The final bill did not include general appropriations however instead allowed the North Dakota Board of Nursing to raise licensure fees and research other possible sources of funding for the project. This legislation sunset on the ND Nursing Needs Study as of September 30, 2006.
After the legislative session, the ND Board of Nursing examined other possible funding mechanisms and did raise licensure fees by $10 in 2002 and subsequently issued a Request for Proposals (RFP). In 2001, Dr. Mary Wakefield RN had returned to North Dakota to lead the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Dr. Wakefield submitted an application to the RFP and received the grant award in 2002. Dr. Wakefield then released a job announcement for a researcher to carry out the study. Dr. Patricia Moulton applied for the position and was hired in May of 2002. Dr. Moulton proceeded to carry out the study which included multiple data collection project. The results of the study are available on the Center for Nursing’s website. The ND Nursing Needs Study joined the newly formed Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers in 2003. The ND Board of Nursing decided to not sunset the study in 2006 and authorized its continuation for a total of 10 years through 2012.
During the 2003 Legislative session House Bill 1245 provided for extensive practice act changes including modifying nursing entry into practice education standards. This bill was a devastating blow to the state’s nursing community. It strengthened walls between nurses with different beliefs and led to many members receding from the states nursing community. In 2004, the ND Board of Nursing under the leadership of Dr. Constance B. Kalanek PhD, RN hosted a meeting with the Oregon Center for Nursing who had some success in creating a collaborative of their state’s nursing organizations in order to provide for a unified voice. The ND Nurse Leadership Council was created after this meeting. The purpose of the Council was to unify North Dakota nurses by collaborating on an agenda for nursing. The founding organizations included the ND Board of Nursing, the ND Nurses Association, the ND Organization of Nurse Executives and the College and University Nursing Education Administrators (CUNEA). This effort offered nursing the opportunity to coalesce and unite under one purpose. Between 2004 and 2011 the organization collaborated on many strategic plans and held many information sharing and networking meetings.
In 2008, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the Department of Labor formed the Center to Champion Nursing and started state based Nursing Education Capacity Summit Teams. The lead researcher from the North Dakota Center for Rural Health, Dr. Patricia Moulton and Dr. Jacqueline Mangnall who was the President of CUNEA were co-leads of the North Dakota team. The ND team was based out of the ND Leadership Council and includes additional partners such as the ND Department of Commerce and ND AARP. This group created a strategic plan which included at its core- a North Dakota Center for Nursing. This group worked with legislators on Senate Bill #2304 for the 2009 legislative session. This bill would have created a ND Center for Nursing to address issues of supply and demand for nurses including issues of recruitment, retention and use of nurses and nurse educators and included a request for general fund appropriations. This bill was not passed in the Human Services Committee. Undeterred, the ND Nursing Education Capacity Summit Team examined other options for funding and submitted an application to the Otto Bremer Foundation for an organizational infrastructure grant in 2010 which was funded. The ND Board of Nursing agreed to provide matching funds to this grant. During this year, the ND Nursing Education Capacity Summit Team and the ND Nurse Leadership Council began researching ways to reduce duplication as the two groups had substantial overlap in members.
In January of 2011, the ND Nursing Education Capacity Summit Team and the ND Nurse Leadership Council met in a joint meeting with an outside facilitator and agreed to merge into one group and form the ND Center for Nursing Leadership Team. Over the next several months, this team formed a vision, mission and the initial structure of the Center. In late Spring 2011, the group advertised for an Executive Director of the ND Center for Nursing and Dr. Patricia Moulton PhD, was hired as the first director and began her new position in July of 2011.