Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Currently the Executive Director Ohio League for Nursing and Co-Lead of the Ohio Action Coalition, Jane F. Mahowald, BSN, MA, RN, ANEF, has practiced as a nurse longer than any other nurse whose story has appeared on this site. Her dedication and work have been recognized with multiple awards throughout the years. She shares her nursing journey and her thoughts about the future of our profession.
I grew up in Michigan, and as the majority of nurses at the time, graduated from a diploma program--St. Luke's Hospital School of Nursing (SON) in Marquette, Michigan. While working as a staff nurse, I then went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Wayne State University in Detroit, followed by an M.A. in Education from Northern Michigan University, also in Marquette. Within a few years, I found myself gravitating toward nursing education. It began with my being a medical-surgical instructor and led to being Director of the School of Nursing and then Director of Nursing Education, which encompassed the SON as well as staff development in the hospital. While at the SON, I was proud to accomplish initial NLN accreditation.
In 1974, we moved to Cleveland. I took a position at Lutheran Medical Center as Director of Nursing Education, a position I held for a decade. It was clear that nursing education was moving to a different model, and I oversaw an orderly closing of the school.
In 1986, I accepted the role of Executive Director of the Ohio League for Nursing (OLN). My past experiences in both clinical and teaching roles helped me to understand how important well-educated nurses are to our society, as well as the needs of nursing students, practicing nurses, and nursing faculty. I served as the Project Director for the Ohio Nursing Collaborative for Educational Mobility (ONCEM). Knowing that the path for nurses to progress was not smooth, ONCEM developed the Ohio Nursing Articulation Model (ONAM) to provide seamless progression in Ohio from Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) to Registered Nurse (RN) and RN to the baccalaureate degree. ONAM, adopted in 2003, was used to inform the Career Technical Credit Transfer (CT2) Articulation work of the Ohio Board of Regents.
My position with OLN has allowed me the opportunity to participate in many policy initiatives and work collaboratively with other nursing organizations nationally. These include working on the establishment of the Ohio Network for Nursing Workforce (ONNW), being a part of the Education Advisory Group and Continuing Nursing Education Advisory Committee for the Ohio Board of Nursing, a member a number of NLN committees, and the national Colleagues in Caring collaborative.
Throughout my career, in both Michigan and Ohio, I have been active in nursing professional organizations at both local, state, and national levels. This is an important nursing responsibility that I would encourage newer nurses not to overlook. The professional benefits these experiences bring are invaluable.
While our profession has undergone many changes during my 66 years as a nurse, I view the future of nursing as holding great promise. There are those who believe that nursing is the right group to influence the improvement of our health care system. Dr. Susan B. Hassmiller believes that nursing can have a major role in developing health equity. It is my expectation that when the “Nursing 2030” report is released in the spring of 2021, it will highlight the importance of health equity and the roles that nurses will play in its achievement.