Betty Irene Moore was born in Los Gatos, Calif. In 1949 she earned a B.A. in journalism from San Jose College, where she met Gordon, and they married the following year. She worked in advertising and public relations, and she joined the Ford Foundation shortly after its formation. In 1953 the couple moved to Silver Spring, Md., and they returned to California in 1956, when Gordon joined Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory in Mountain View.
Betty has served as a member of the board of El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, and she also volunteered at the Palo Alto Senior Day Care Center. These experiences, her role as family caregiver and–most specifically–her experience as a patient caused her to recognize the important role that nurses play in healthcare. Because Betty experienced serious errors during her own hospitalizations, she became committed to helping RNs lead the way in preventing patient harm. This vision inspired the foundation to launch the nursing initiative–whose work and success informed the creation of the Patient Care Program.
With the U.S. health care system making headlines almost daily, it’s only fitting that the nursing profession is finally starting to take center stage, drawing the attention of the medical community. For that we can thank, at least in part, one of the nursing initiative’s long-standing grantees, Dr. Peter Buerhaus, PhD, RN. Buerhaus is the Valere Potter Professor of Nursing and the director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies at Vanderbilt University. He also chairs the National Health Workforce Commission and is a true leader in the field of nursing workforce research. In spring 2013, two articles co-authored by Buerhaus were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the most widely read medical publication in the world. NEJM rarely features articles on nursing, so the publication of these back-to-back articles on nursing represents a real accomplishment for Buerhaus and his colleagues.
These two pieces, Perspectives of Physicians and Nurse Practitioners on Primary Care Practice and The Nursing Workforce in the Era of Health Reform, both highlight that in the context of demographic and policy changes, nurses are poised to take on an even greater role in health care delivery. One of the articles in particular has garnered significant media attention, as it revealed a discrepancy between the views of doctors and nurses on the scope of nurse practicioners’ responsibilities in primary healthcare, a finding that Buerhaus called “unsettling…[as] these large gaps in perceptions will inhibit efforts to redesign care delivery and to improve the productivity and configuration of the primary care workforce.” Hopefully, however, by highlighting this gap, the publication of these articles will spark an important dialogue on the role of nurses, physicians and other health care professionals, and eventually lead to the cooperation and understanding necessary to improve patient care.
In addition to being a grantee, Buerhaus is a strategic thought-partner with the nursing initiative team, frequent speaker at our events and untiring ambassador of our vision and work. The Nursing Initiative’s partnership with Buerhaus exemplifies the impact the foundation can have by fostering collaborative partnerships with the leading lights in the field.