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unique laboratory for achieving mission-related goals. A distinguishing feature of academic nursing practice is the opportunity for all faculty, regardless of their degree of clinical practice activity, to participate in practice-related research and education. Academic practice, then, is an important medium for testing and teaching innovative clinical models, developing common language to describe and measure nursing interventions and outcomes, and generating new knowledge and evidence-based care (Evans, Jenkins, & Buhler-Wilkerson, 1999; Grey & Walker, 1998; Lang, Jenkins, Evans, & Matthews, 1996; Walker, 1994).

If academic practice is to fulfill these agendas, building capacity to mount and sustain it is critical. The establishment of academic practices in schools of nursing from research-intensive environments holds great promise for influencing nursing in the 21st century. Although many schools of nursing have been involved in some aspects of academic practice, the lack of common focus and direction has hampered concerted movement. The Penn Macy Initiative was conceived as a vehicle to help build and coalesce the critical mass needed to bridge this gap. This article describes the Penn Macy Initiative, its implementation and experience in the first 3 years, and how its alumni fellows, an annual conference, and Web-based consultation will continue to provide impetus, leadership, and resources for academic nursing practice in the years to come.

Background

Institutionalizing academic practice as the cornerstone of nursing education is of great importance to the discipline of nursing. Although entrepreneurial business start-up courses are plentiful, the knowledge they provide is insufficient to establish a practice in the context of a research-intensive academic institution and school of nursing. Understanding the importance of this context is crucial to the success of advanced practice initiatives in schools that have little experience in practice start-up and operation (Evans & Yurkow, 1999; Lang, 1983; Lang & Evans, 1999; Lang et al., 1996; Mackey, Adams,&McNiel, 1997; Swan, 2000; Swan & Cotroneo, 1999; Swan & Evans, 2001; Walker, 1994). Further, the culture of a research-intensive environment can create a sense of competition for scarce resources between the practice and the research missions that will need to be negotiated. These schools of nursing need help to establish academic practices in ways that integrate rather than splinter their missions.

As nurses assume greater responsibility for providing patient care across a broad range of settings, they must be exposed in their education to practices that show the best evidence-based nursing models for health care and incorporate the latest research in clinical care delivery. The role of faculty in designing, testing, and modeling best practices is essential. In recognition of the need for faculty to stay engaged in clinical care, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has for several years sponsored an annual conference on faculty practice.

Few schools of nursing operate clinical practices, however, and most have little control over the clinical context in which their students learn to be baccalaureate- prepared or advanced practice nurses. Moreover, securing and maintaining clinical

Author’s final copy prior to publication. See J Prof Nurs 18(2):63-69, March-April 2002, for the copy of record. Copyright 2002, Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

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