The Future of Nursing: The Report is In

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The Future of Nursing: The Report is In

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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Two years ago, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation teamed with the Institute of Medicine to plan how nursing could better meet the needs of the American people. The members of the task force met five times and held three public forums; in addition, they carried out an extensive literature review and implemented a wide research network. The results were released at a meeting held in Washington, D.C. on November 30 and December 1, 2010, and reflected the three areas of concentration: acute care, community care and nursing education.

The report is long, 586 pages of findings and recommendations, and you can view the whole document at, click “Research & Data” tab.

A few highlights stand out. One of the most gratifying is that nurses can fill a new and expanded role in the redesigned healthcare system, and indeed their role is pivotal to its success. But with 30 million more people needing access, changes in nursing need to come, and come quickly. Among the recommendations are:

1.    A change in the scope of practice for nurses. State laws vary widely and often reflect political agendas. Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education.

2.    Improvement in the education of nurses, including greater numbers with advanced preparation, and a seamless transition from practical nursing to the highest levels of practice.

3.    Better data collection and an improved information infrastructure. Effective workforce planning and policy making depends on it. Informatics, anyone? 


Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN is a Working Nurse staff writer with extensive hospital and community-based nursing experience. 

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