Academic-Practice Partnerships Tool Kit

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Indiana University Nursing Learning Partnership
Linda Q. Everett, PhD, RN, FAAN, NEA – BC
Chief Nurse Executive
Indiana University Health
Marion E. Broome, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dean, Indiana University School of Nursing



Selecting Partners

How do you identify your partners?

The need to seek partnerships between known academic centers of excellence with practice centers of excellence informed how we identified our partners.  Mutual goals in alignment with Benner’s (2011) call for radical change in education coupled with the Future of Nursing report (IOM, 2010) and shared respect between the CNE and Dean naturally informed the collaboration.

Players influencing the partnership emerged as the Indiana University Nursing Learning Partnership (IUNLP).  The IUNLP is a partnership that demonstrates interdependence between practice and education, based on a shared vision, mission, accountability, and culture centered around the health of the communities we serve.

Players (IUNLP) developed a model that is intended to support an environment where every IU Health nurse and IU School of Nursing student is welcomed and integrated into the IU Health learning community of nursing professionals. 

Why is this partner a good fit? 

Transformational leaders with shared vision and high respect for differences each brings to achieving shared goals.  Fit has been influenced by players (IUNLP) mutual goal to support seamless transitions between education and practice at multiple intersection points. 

The right people were the Chief Nurse Executive for Indiana University Health and the Dean for the Indiana University School of Nursing.  Mutual goals for excellence in practice and education coupled with the IOM report and Benner’s (2011) call for radical change in nursing education were the catalyst for the partnership between these two particularly transformational leaders.

Where do you meet?

The IUNLP meets monthly and location alternates between the practice and academic sites.

Preparing for Your First Meeting

What do you need to know about your potential partner and his or her organization?  What does your partner need to know about you and your organization? 

Preparatory work prior to the first meeting is imperative.  Assuming shared goals and mutual respect among the key practice and academic leader, we then examined attributes necessary to serve on the team. 

Equity in number representing both practice and academe was considered.  Potential team member attributes considered included: team member knowledge/ expertise within their respective setting and natural tendency to adopt or adapt.  For example, members were tapped based upon whether the individual was an innovator, early adopter, resister who we could count on to ask wicked questions were also team member considerations. 

All meetings are facilitated by a dual role shared by the academic and practice sites.  All meetings are preceded with a preparatory phase that includes pre-reading, reflection, and group work when necessary. 

The IUNLP began with a retreat that resulted in vision, mission, and goal statements. What followed were sub- teams charged with model development, structure, glossary of terms, and application examples.


Initial Meeting

What is the right partnership activity for you and your partner?

The practice and academic strategic plans coupled with two transformational leaders were the strength that augmented the partnership. 

IUNLP is committed to the formation of nurses by nurturing ongoing engagement (life long learning) in advancing the delivery of quality safe care by nursing for patients wherever they are, in any and every care setting.

What documents about your organization might be helpful to bring to the first meeting? 

What was intentionally planned prior to the first meeting included the following: selecting for team, pre-reading engaging around what would emerge as mutual goals and shared knowledge (Benner’s Call for Radical Change, Future of Nursing, and Nursing Excellence (NLN) and Nursing Practice (Magnet) sources of evidence. 

What do you have to offer?

We selected for team and therefore the IUNLP includes practice experts, nursing education researchers, operations genius, coupled national networking, experience with grant writing and publications.

What is the mutual benefit?

Examples include: Nursing Leadership Journal Club co-led by CNO and faculty (Duffy, et.al., 2011), Advanced Practice Institute led by IUH Director of Nursing with mentoring from CNE and Dean, QSEN scenario design between practice education and faculty with QSEN expertise, faculty support/ mentoring  for facility-based research councils, faculty opportunity to conduct research in their area of interest given practice exposure, and beginning design of situated coaching between practice experts and faculty influencing novice to expert trajectory.

What is your vision?

  • A tripartite vision has emerged for the IUNLP.
  • A partnership demonstrating interdependence between practice and education, based on a shared vision, mission and accountability, all patient-centered
  • A model that supports an environment where every IU Health nurse and IUSON nursing student is welcomed and integrated into the IU Health learning community of nursing professionals 
  • An environment that support seamless transitions between education and practice at multiple intersection points

Does your potential partner share this vision?

Yes - given the vision emerged as a result of mutual visioning sessions.

What is the potential initiative/activity and who else needs to be involved in both organizations?

As above, small group of key stakeholders with intentional planning based upon mutual goals – natural compromise.

Who is the top leadership in the organization?  Are you talking to them?  

Strategy – IUNLP is all about the synergy, mutual respect and shared vision between the CNE at IUH and the Dean at the IUSON.

What is the business case for the partnership?

In process, but certainly in alignment with VBP, expected sources of evidence for excellence for both NLN and ANCC – Magnet.

Subsequent Meetings

Do you have clarity on goals and vision?

Yes – as stated previously

Are your goals written and clearly defined?

Yes with cited examples including the nursing leadership journal club, advanced practice institute, and shared roles to name a few examples.

What are the details and timeline of the initiative?  Do you have clarity and mutual understanding?

Yes, with the aforementioned examples.

What resources are needed?  Who will provide them?  Are the resources shared?

Resources are shared in some cases and offset by grants with other examples.

What are the expected outcomes of the activity?  How will they be evaluated? 

At a minimum, both practice and education are centers of excellence with the expectation that performance is quantifiable.  From a practice perspective, for example, specific sources of excellence (ANCC, 2008) are enabled through the intentional practice – academic partnership and reflected in components that include transformational leadership, structural empowerment, exemplary professional practice, and new knowledge.  Additional practice metrics include evidence of strong performance with VBP. 

How will results be disseminated? 

Communication among key stakeholders is intentionally designed to be both vertical and horizontal to enable the voices between the boardroom and bedside to influence design, strategy, execution, and sustainability. Beyond key stakeholders, the intent to contribute to the body of knowledge through publication and presentation has also been explored.

What is the order of authorship? 

Intentionally alternating.



Is this the right time for this partnership?

Yes for the all the reasons mentioned previously.

What are the issues that will facilitate or impede the development of the partnership?

No issues however – mindful of the impact of leadership, mindful of the potential for ego, the potential for fatigue in terms of stretched financial, material, and human resources.

What is the time commitment for the partners?  Whose time will be required? When will the meetings be scheduled?  Are they on a regular basis and frequent?

The time commitment is mutual and equitable among partners.  The meetings are scheduled during a time that’s convenient for the majority and meetings are held monthly.


What space is required for the activity?  What equipment or supplies are needed?  What $ is needed? 

Dependent upon particular activity and in process of identifying need.

Where will we present outcomes?



What are the policies or regulatory issues that will impede or facilitate development of the partnership on both sides?



How will the partnership be funded?

As shared previously, to be determined based upon particular activity between the partnership.

What history do the partners have with each other and each others’ institutions?

History in terms of partnership is based upon previously mentioned potential barriers to partnership.