HealthCommentary

Exploring Human Potential

New Initiative Launches on the Future of Nursing

Posted on | July 28, 2009 | No Comments

At some point in the near future, whether it’s this fall, as President Obama hopes, or early 2010, as more and more politicians are warning, we will transition from the “health reform debate” to “health reform implementation.” As front-line providers of care, nurses will play a critical role in the implementation of health reform—no matter what shape it ultimately takes.

Nurses are the largest segment of the health care workforce, and are essential to the provision of quality care. Ask anyone, including the President, and they will tell you that what they remember most about their experience with the health care system is the care they received from a nurse. The success of health reform, and the future of health care, is closely linked to the future of nursing, and right now the nursing profession is faced with challenges that if left unaddressed could derail health reform implementation. Shortages in the numbers of nurses are dangerously high, and our nursing school programs are currently ill-equipped to appropriately educate nurses for providing care in the 21st century.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Institute of Medicine have a taken a huge step in tackling these problems head-on by creating the Initiative on the Future of Nursing. The goals of the initiative are nothing short of identifying solutions to the problems facing the nursing profession and transforming the way Americans receive health care. Led by chairperson former HHS secretary and president of the University of Miami Donna Shalala, and vice-chairperson and chief nursing officer of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Linda Burnes Bolton, a committee of experts will identify pathways for increasing access, improving quality and reducing costs through the involvement of nursing leaders and widespread use of evidence-based nursing care models. The future of health care is in good hands: those of the leadership of this initiative, those of committee members, and those of the nurses who provide health care every day.

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