For the past 10 years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has sponsored the publication of a series of policy briefs entitled Charting Nursing's Future. Their purpose is to inform key stakeholders such as hospital executives, national and state lawmakers, and nursing leaders about various issues related to the nursing profession. They also aim to highlight the role nurses play in building a culture of health. As such, this series covers a wide range of topics of interest to nurses—topics that can be grouped into three categories: issues affecting patient care, issues affecting the nursing profession, and issues affecting the nurse as an individual.
Patient care is at the heart of nursing and therefore the focus of many of the briefs. A main topic is patient safety in health care environments, including nurse-led safety initiatives, the need for adequate nurse staffing, how unprofessional conduct affects patient care, and why interprofessional collaboration is an important safety issue. Additional patient care topics include initiatives developed to expand access to care, improve care quality, promote disease prevention, and drive health care costs down. Many of these briefs also include the policy implications associated with these initiatives.
Care of the community is also part of patient care, and the briefs specifically address public health nursing, school nursing, and community nursing efforts. They also feature efforts to ensure that members of the community, particularly vulnerable populations, have access to health care. Highlighted programs include home visiting services, community health centers, and school nursing services. One series of articles on creating safe and productive workplaces showcased various nurse-led initiatives to enhance the health of employees in the community, including worksite health clinics and work-based wellness programs.
THE NURSING PROFESSION
Among the issues affecting nursing as a profession is nursing education. The briefs address the lack of nurse faculty, the gap between traditional nursing education and 21st-century competencies, how and why nurses should obtain advanced degrees, and how to integrate quality and safety into nursing curricula. Additional topics include the nursing shortage, how nurses can work to the fullest extent of their education and training, and suggestions for implementing recommendations made in The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, the 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine (now the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine).
THE NURSE AS AN INDIVIDUAL
A helpful feature of these briefs is that they also focus on the health of the nurse. One brief that showcased various nurse-led initiatives to enhance employee health featured a free, online continuing education program to help nurses and nurse managers learn better strategies for coping with shift work and long work hours. In the same issue, another initiative called the Quadruple Aim focused on helping health care workers find joy and meaning in their work by protecting them from injury, violence, bullying, and burnout (for both, see page five at www.rwjf.org/content/dam/farm/reports/issue_briefs/2015/rwjf422941).
The briefs also include a special photo feature, “The Value of Nursing, Then and Now,” which contrasts past with present nursing care. In the May issue, for example, a photo of a nurse caring for patients during the 1918–19 Spanish flu pandemic with just her mouth and nose covered is next to one of nurses during the recent Ebola epidemic who wore head-to-toe personal protective equipment (see page two at www.rwjf.org/content/dam/farm/reports/issue_briefs/2016/rwjf429036).
Charting Nursing's Future is a great resource not only for nurses, but for policymakers, consumers, health care organizations, and educators. The briefs are available free of charge at the RWJF Web site (www.rwjf.org/en/library/collections/charting-nursings-future.html), where nurses can also sign up to have them delivered via e-mail.