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Editor’s blog: Back to 'The Future of Nursing'

The mission: To boldly go where nursing has never gone before.

By James E. Mattson
We announced it in RNL in July 2009: The Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) were launching a new initiative on the future of nursing and had convened a study committee to review innovative models of nursing care and education with the goal of creating a transformational report.
Fifteen months later, in October 2010, the much-anticipated report was released and, if its recommendations are enacted, will indeed prove transformational. In other words, it doesn’t embrace the status quo, exactly what you should expect from a document titled The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Nor is it collecting cyberdust. In October 2011, no fewer than 18,000 visitors viewed the report online. 
Maybe you’ve heard about the report, but haven’t really taken the time to learn what it’s calling for. I encourage you to take a look because, if you’re a nurse, The Future of Nursing is about your future. And its follow-on initiative, the Future of Nursing Campaign for Action, is about how you can become involved and help shape that future.
For starters, here are eight recommendations you’ll find in the report, together with my comments in parentheses.
Remove scope-of-practice barriers. (That nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training is one of four key messages you’ll find in the report.)
Expand opportunities for nurses to lead and diffuse collaborative improvement efforts. (Among other goals, encourage development of nurse-led, patient-centered models of care.)
Implement nurse residency programs. (Physicians need transition-to-practice programs. Why not nurses?)
Increase the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree to 80 percent by 2020. (Watch RNL for a soon-to-be-published interview with Linda Aiken to see why this recommendation makes a lot of sense!)
Double the number of nurses with a doctorate by 2020. (Ditto.)
Ensure that nurses engage in lifelong learning. (It’s good for everyone—essential for nurses.)
Prepare and enable nurses to lead change to advance health. (At 3 million strong, nurses comprise the largest segment of the U.S. health care work force and therefore should have a stake in what happens in health care. You think?)
Build an infrastructure for the collection and analysis of interprofessional health care workforce data. (You’ll never get where you want to go if you don’t know where you are.)
That’s just the beginning. To learn more about the Future of Nursing report and the next step, the Future of Nursing Campaign for Action, coordinated through the Center to Champion Nursing in America, watch this video by Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, senior adviser for nursing at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Then check out to find out how you can get involved at the grassroots level by starting or helping to expand an Action Coalition in your state. Or maybe you’re already involved and want to encourage others to participate. Wherever you fall in the continuum, from no present involvement to active leadership, I invite your comments below.
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The Future of Nursing, 1/24/2012
Rating: 5
Thanks for your succinct overview of the IOM's work, James. My first reaction to the report was "how nice the IOM understands the goodness of nursing and want to support us." At a recent meeting of the Ohio Action Coalition, we had a eureka moment. The core message is actually NURSING HAS TO DO BETTER. WELL IDENTIFIED PROBLEMS IN HEALTH CARE DELIVERY CAN BE ADDRESSED IF NURSING DOES BETTER. FIX WHAT IS BROKEN IN NURSING. NOW. STTI is not a political action group, but STTI members have vital roles to play in fixing nursing for the future. For me, the most pressing fix is education. In Ohio, only 30% of the workforce holds a BSN. The pipeline to graduate studies is severely constricted. Like many other states, Ohio has a BSN in Ten Initiative. After two years of educational outreach, the resistance we encounter is disappointing. We have to do better. Other thoughts? Doris Edwards
Thanks for your comment, Doris, 1/24/2012
Rating: 5
Thanks, Doris, for your comment. Much appreciated. Right now, I'm working on prepping for posting the Aiken interview I mention in my blog. I know you'll find it interesting. I encourage others to join the conversation Doris has started.
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