“The United States has the opportunity to transform its healthcare system to provide seamless, affordable, quality care that is accessible to all, patient centered, and evidence based and leads to improved health outcomes. Achieving this transformation will require remodeling many aspects of the healthcare system. This is especially true for the nursing profession, the largest segment of the healthcare workforce.” (Institute of Medicine [IOM], 2011, p. 1)
By now, many of you are familiar with the IOM’s (2011) extremely popular The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. This report, which is the result of a collaborative effort between the IOM and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), is an impressive, pivotal document in the history of nursing. This document outlines the role nursing and nurses have or should have in the changing healthcare landscape. This not only serves as a landmark study but also as a blueprint for the future of our profession. In this report, there are four main areas of emphasis: leadership, practice, education, and interprofessional collaboration. This report maintains that nurses are vital healthcare professionals and that our contributions are critical to a fully functioning healthcare system in which all people have access to high-quality healthcare.
Although the report makes recommendations, the groundwork to make these recommendations a reality is being overseen by the Future of Nursing Campaign for Action at the RWJF. This campaign is coordinated through the Center to Champion Nursing in America and is a collaborative venture between an initiative of the American Association of Retired Persons, the American Association of Retired Persons Foundation, and the RWJF. It is designed to implement the recommendations made in the report. The Center to Champion Nursing in America has been working toward the goals of the report by working with stakeholders through its Champion Nursing Coalition. This coalition is an organization comprised of over 45 national healthcare business and consumer advocacy groups.
Many key stakeholders, both individuals and groups, are being asked to integrate the IOM recommendations into their own agendas, strategic plans, and practice. Until now, many of these steps to integrate the recommendations are being started on the national and state levels, with as many as 36 states currently having action coalitions. It is the intention for all states to have an action coalition by the end of 2012.
By now, you are probably thinking, “How does this apply to me? What can I do personally?” First, I would encourage each of you to go online and read the IOM report. I know it is a lengthy document, but taking the time to read the highlights will give you a handle on what is going on in our profession. Second, I would encourage you to become actively involved—become engaged—with these recommendations. Maybe you would like to consider incorporating some of the report’s recommendations into your own life or your own practice. For example, in the area of education, maybe now is a good time for you to consider going back to school. The IOMs goal is to have 80% of nurses with a baccalaureate degree by 2020 and to double the number of nurses with a doctorate by 2020 (IOM, 2011). The report calls for higher levels of nursing education and preparation, whether that is a BSN for some, or doctoral education for others, and is pushing for enhanced access to innovative programs—maybe there is one that is right for you. Perhaps, now is the time to consider sitting for certification by the Dermatology Certification Nursing Board, which is a part of the Dermatology Nurses’ Association (DNA). Maybe you have considered joining the leadership efforts of DNA or JDNA, or maybe now is the time to share your years of nursing experience and knowledge with the community by sitting on boards of local, state, or national organizations. What you know as a nurse is valued and important, and by sharing your wisdom and expertise, you can contribute to the roles outlined in the report. Perhaps you are thinking of becoming politically active and of running for elected office. Or maybe you would like to start a novel interdisciplinary program for your practice. Let us know! I would welcome you writing me and letting me know what your plans are—we can highlight some of these plans either online or in an upcoming issue.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Angela L. Borger
Institute of Medicine. (2011). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health
. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
(This initiative is called the Nurse Leaders in the Boardroom, is an hour-long introductory program intended to help prepare nurse leaders (yes, you) for board leadership, and is a program any nurse can have access to).