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Foreword: The Editorial in this issue has been written by Joanne Hickey, a Trustee of the American Board of Neuroscience Nursing. She highlights the key messages that emerged from The Future of Nursing: Leading Change and Advancing Health and urges us to embrace the challenges it describes.
V. Susan Carroll, MS RN CNE
The 21st century ushered in an urgent call for fundamental change in almost every segment of society, including healthcare delivery, practice, education, and regulation of the healthcare professions. This is especially true for the profession of nursing. The capstone of 2010 was the release of The Future of Nursing: Leading Change and Advancing Health, supported by a joint partnership between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The report is historic in that it is the first time that the prestigious IOM has focused a report solely on the profession of nursing. The members of the committee were multidisciplinary national leaders who based their exhaustive work on evidence rather than consensus. The report notes that the United States has an opportunity to transform its healthcare system to provide higher quality, safer, more affordable, and more accessible care. A "must read" for all nurses, the Future of Nursing report is available at the IOM and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Web sites.
The four key messages in the report include the following: (1) Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training; (2) nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved educational system that promotes seamless academic progression; (3) nurses should be full partners, with physicians and other healthcare professionals, in redesigning healthcare; and (4) effective workforce planning and policy making require better data collection and information infrastructure. In addition to providing the key messages, the committee also provided more specific recommendations as outlined in the report. A landmark of this report is the detailed national and state plan created for implementation of the key messages and recommendations through a national network of partnerships with professional organization and nurses' association. The scale of the planning is unparalleled to ensure implementation. In the past, many credible reports have been filed away in drawers because an implementation and evaluation plan had not been created. This fate cannot befall the Future of Nursing report!
The United States has more than 3 million registered nurses who are regarded as the most trusted group of professionals according to countless national surveys. With such a critical mass of trusted practitioners, nurses should be primary leaders in health matters and the healthcare transformation[horizontal ellipsis]but are we? Nurses have not always seen themselves as leaders and have left the work of leadership to others. An unprecedented opportunity now exists for nursing, one that is time limited. If we do not seize this golden opportunity to be leaders now in the implementation of the Future of Nursing report, the opportunity will be lost, and one could only hope that there might be a second chance sometime in the future. The stakes are high. The profession of nursing has a sacred trust with society. We are both responsible and accountable to the society and those who we serve.
The message of the Future of Nursing speaks to all nurses, underscoring how critical nurses are to the society. It also challenges the nursing profession and nurses to step up to the plate, not for any self-serving reasons, but for the patients whom we serve. Do we have the courage to work together both within nursing and with other professions and constituents to be leaders from the bedside to the boardroom to effect the changes that will transform healthcare?
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