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Every now and again, conditions within a particular society align in ways that ignite rapid change. It's been said that timing is everything. Well, the timing couldn't be better for forging nursing's future.
Why now? The cost of healthcare is skyrocketing, intense political efforts are underway to reform our current healthcare model, there's a compelling need for a community wellness focus, and the economic climate is daunting. Nurses are ideal candidates to play a pivotal role in navigating these challenges-but formidable barriers still exist.
Enter the Institute of Medicine and its newly released report, "The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health." This milestone document funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provides recommendations to fully engage nursing as a key strategy in transforming the healthcare system. The report has four key messages:
* Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training.
* Nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression.
* Nurses should be full partners with physicians and other healthcare professionals in redesigning healthcare in the United States.
* Effective workforce planning and policy making require better data collection and an improved information infrastructure.1
We're at a historic crossroad as nurses. We must awaken as a profession and grasp the unparalleled opportunity to move forward in the same direction if we want our rightful place at the table. This means committing to ongoing education, actively engaging in dialog and decision making, and finally resolving the debate over entry-level educational requirements.
As a group, we've been highly accommodating to those who push back to maintain the status quo. But the status quo won't get us where we need to go. No matter where we stand in our own careers, let our legacy to the profession be one that lets us develop our fullest potential and maximize our value to the patients we serve.
Until next time-
Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM
Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2011 Vice President, Emergency, Trauma, and Aeromedical Services Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.
1. Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health; 2010. http://www.iom.edu/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2010/The-Future-of-Nursing/Futur. [Context Link]
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