1. Failner, Brigitte M. MS, RN, ONC
  2. NAON President, 2010-2011

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The New Year promises to be as unsettling for our profession as the past has been. However one wonders what could be accomplished if we look at all the opportunities that it also will provide.

Brigitte M. Failner,... - Click to enlarge in new window, MS, RN, ONC NAON President, 2010-2011

One of the most exciting and meaningful things related to the profession of nursing was released October 5, 2010. This consensus report "The Future of Nursing Leading Change, Advancing Health" was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation initiative with the Institute of Medicine (IOM).


Since its release I have attended such meetings as The National Association of Boards/Nursing Organizations Service, the American Nurses Association Affiliates meeting, and the Fall Summit of the Nursing Organization Alliance, where the main topics focused around this Future of Nursing Report.


In 2008, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the IOM launched a 2-year initiative to respond to the need to assess and transform the nursing profession. The IOM appointed a committee with the purpose of producing a report that would make recommendations for an action-oriented blueprint for the future of nursing. The report starts out: With more than 3 million members, the nursing profession is the largest segment of the nation's healthcare workforce. Working on the front lines of patient care, nurses can play a vital role in helping realize the objectives set forth in the 2010 Affordable Care Act. I think that all of us can agree with the statement that "A number of barriers prevent nurses from being able to respond effectively to the rapidly changing health care settings and an evolving health care system." We all believe that these barriers need to be overcome to ensure that nurses are well positioned to lead change and advance health.


The key messages from the report were as follows:


* 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.



The committee then also made recommendations for each of the key messages; I strongly encourage you to go into the IOM Web site ( and read the report and the recommendations.


Three recommendations jumped out as ones that in this New Year each of us could get involved in. One of the recommendations is that state boards of nursing, accrediting bodies, the federal government, and healthcare organizations should take actions to support nurses' completion of a transition-to-practice program (nurse residency) after they have completed a prelicensure or advanced practice degree program or when they are transitioning into new clinical practice areas. Does your institution have a nurse residency program?


An other recommendation is that accrediting bodies, schools of nursing, healthcare organizations, and continuing competency educators from multiple healthcare professions should collaborate to ensure that nurses and nursing students and faculty continue their education and engage in lifelong learning to gain the competencies needed to provide care for diverse populations across the lifespan. Does your institution encourage or enable their nurses to continue working on a higher degree by on-campus classes?


The third one recommends that nurses, nursing education programs, and nursing associations should prepare the nursing workforce to assume leadership positions across all levels, while public, private, and governmental healthcare decision makers should ensure that leadership positions are available to and filled by nurses. Does your institution have a clinical ladder and have mentoring programs for its prospective leaders? More importantly, are you a mentor for future leaders?


I ask each of you this question, Do you know your institution's Nursing Strategic Plan and are some of the recommendations included in it?


We must all ask ourselves, "Do we want to accept the challenges that this New Year will bring and do we want to get involved?"


Consider a moment our profession with all nurses being knowledgeable about the issues and getting involved; frequently the outcomes would be very different.


May the New Year bring you courage and serenity