Each year, the American Academy of Nursing (AAN) selects an impressive group of clinicians, policy leaders, educators and executives to join the nation’s thought leaders in nursing and health care. AAN has selected 163 nurses to make up its 2015 class of fellows. The magnitude of this honor is better appreciated when the class of only 163 new fellows is compared to over 3 million nurses in the United States. Among those who will be inducted as Academy fellows is Al Rundio, PhD, DNP, associate dean of Post-Licensure Nursing Programs and CNE, clinical professor of nursing.
Those selected have made notable contributions to nursing and health care, and Rundio’s contributions throughout his diverse career are nearly too many to count. Rundio’s accomplishment is equal parts the product of passion for his profession (one he never imagined he would get into), his willingness to accept new challenges (even when the likelihood of success seemed slim) and sheer luck. “There have been so many times and turning points in my career that I just happened to be at the right place at the right time,” said Rundio.
With 2% of all nurses being male when Rundio was college-aged, it was a career he never saw for himself. He set out to be a teacher, and when matters of the heart changed his plans, he landed a position as an orderly simply because the career afforded him a schedule that fit in with college plans. After three days he nearly quit, but when his wife convinced him to give the job a chance, he seceded. As he continued the job, he grew to love it and started trying to identify his place in health care – that’s when he found nursing.
Ever since then, Rundio has enjoyed a robust career sampling many aspects the profession has to offer. “The beauty of nursing is that you can do so many things, but if I had to do anything over, it would have been to have more of a focus,” he said. “It takes time to find what your real love is in nursing. A colleague of mine, who I can always go to for sound advice, helped me identify concentrations on nursing administration and addictions nursing. That’s when things really started to happen for me. “
And they did. Rundio served as Shore Medical Center’s Chief Nursing Officer for 11 years, honing his interest and expertise in nursing management and administration. He also developed a course for the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), preparing nurse executives to successfully pass the ANCC board exams.
Up for any professional challenge and opportunity that comes his way, when an acquaintance from New Jersey asked Rundio to develop a review course for the International Nurse’s Society of Addictions (IntNSA), he accepted. At the time, he was not even a member of the organization, but he attended their 2006 conference to present the course. It was there that the same acquaintance approached him about another opportunity – a board position with IntNSA.
“I was hesitant,” said Rundio. “For one, I wasn’t a member, and the members didn’t know me. I told her there was no way I would win the position.” But she pressed on, and Rundio accepted. Though he lost, the position became available shortly after, when an elected member resigned, and then it was his as he was next in line. He climbed the board ranks, filling in as secretary and then running for president elect and president – a role he held until October 2014.
A committed and dedicated board member, Rundio became the policy editor for the Journal of Addictions Nursing (the organization’s publication). His work, including direct member outreach and his writing, is helping to revise the Data 2000 Act, which allows physicians to prescribe a detox drug, but not Nurse Practitioners. The TREAT Act, which would give NPs this ability, could move through as quickly as this year.
Though he has accomplished a great deal, the upcoming induction and recognition from the foremost nursing academy is certainly a highlight of the career Rundio has enjoyed. “To me it’s being honored for the culmination of what you’ve done in nursing. I love giving back to the profession, and to me this says that I did that and that it had an impact on nursing.”