1. Section Editor(s): Rodts, Mary Faut DNP, CNP, ONC, FAAN
  2. Editor

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In the fall of 2010, the long-awaited findings of two esteemed groups were released in a document titled The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. This document was the culmination of 2 years of work by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM). In 2008, the RWJF engaged with the IOM to look at how the nursing profession needed to change to help change care for the nations sick. Both the RWJF and the IOM recognized the need for nurses to assume new roles and practice within the scope of their education and capabilities.

Mary Faut Rodts, Edi... - Click to enlarge in new window, DNP, CNP, ONC, FAAN

The IOM was founded in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to act as an advisory group to the federal government. The group is composed of scholars from a variety of disciplines who identify areas of policy concerns for the delivery of healthcare in America.


The RWJF was founded in 1972 and is a philanthropic organization that supports those issues associated with the public's health. The mission of RWJF is to improve the health and healthcare for all Americans. Through transformative projects, the RWJF has improved healthcare of many in the nearly 40 years since its inception.


Healthcare in America is in desperate need of reorganization and restructuring. The IOM and the RWJF formed a partnership because both groups agreed that the success of achieving a real change in healthcare rests with the critical analysis of the largest constituent of the healthcare workforce. "The possibility of strengthening the largest component of the healthcare workforce-nurses-to become partners and leaders in improving the delivery of care and the healthcare system as a whole inspired the IOM to partner with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in creating the RWJF Initiative on the Future of Nursing, at the IOM. In this partnership, the IOM and RWJF were in agreement that accessible, high-quality care cannot be achieved without exceptional nursing care and leadership" (IOM, 2011).


In 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress, which would pave the way for the most widespread change of any healthcare system in the world. The work by the IOM would provide the necessary information to help transform healthcare and the nursing profession.


The IOM developed a very impressive group of experts from different disciplines who were able to bring different perspectives to the committee's charges that were as follows:


* reconceptualizing the role of nurses within the context of the entire workforce, the shortage, societal issues, and current and future technology;


* expanding nursing faculty, increasing the capacity of nursing schools, and redesigning nursing education to ensure that it can produce an adequate number of well-prepared nurses able to meet current and future healthcare demands;


* examining innovative solutions related to care delivery and healthcare professional education by focusing on nursing and the delivery of nursing services; and


* attracting and retaining well-prepared nurses in multiple care settings, including acute, ambulatory, primary care, long-term care, community, and public health. (IOM, 2011)



Nurses represent the largest portion of the healthcare workforce and therefore need to play an important role in the development of the new healthcare system. Identifying what changes need to occur within the nursing profession has been formulated into four key areas: transforming practice, transforming education, transforming leadership, and meeting the need for better data on the healthcare workforce


The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health is a document of more than 700 pages of in-depth information about the transformation of nursing in America. To help synthesize that information, in the next year, the four key areas will be discussed in Orthopaedic nursing. It is essential that every nurse understands the role that he or she will need to play in the new healthcare system in America. Nurses will be the driving force to help achieve the quality of care that we strive to achieve for all of our patients.




Institute of Medicine. (2011). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. [Context Link]