From November 30 to December 1, 2010, I joined many other nurses and healthcare leaders from across the country at the National Summit on Advancing Health through Nursing. Held in Washington, D.C. and sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the summit was the official kick-off for the Initiative on the Future of Nursing (INF): Campaign for Action. Participants were energized about developing a plan to implement recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.
The summit was an opportunity to reconnect with old colleagues and friends, meet new individuals and potential partners, and hear thoughtful leaders discuss the IOM’s recommendations. The ultimate goal of the initiative is to improve healthcare delivery so it better meets the needs of all patients. Because nurses are the key to achieving that goal, the charge is to transform nursing.
The IOM report relies on a robust evidence base that demonstrates registered nurses’ leadership capacity in a patient-centered care environment. It also calls for actions to maximize the contributions of all nurses and eliminate barriers that prevent them from practicing to the full extent of their education, training, and licensure.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this project, I’ll provide a brief overview of the report’s recommendations, as well as the campaign strategy to generate momentum for the changes across the healthcare sector and beyond. As a result of its deliberations, the IOM committee formulated four key messages that structure the discussion and recommendations presented in the report:
- 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 health professionals in redesigning health care in the United States.
- Effective workforce planning and policy-making require better data collection and an improved information infrastructure.
Based on these recommendations, the INF Campaign for Action aims to redesign the healthcare delivery system to address:
- quality care accessible to diverse populations
- wellness and disease prevention
- reliably improved health outcomes
- compassionate care across the lifespan
- diverse needs of the changing patient population.
The implementation strategy for the Future of Nursing recommendations is to engage and educate key stakeholders at the national and state levels about these recommendations and work collaboratively to change our healthcare delivery system. At its October 14, 2010 meeting, the Tri-Council for Nursing, an alliance of four autonomous nursing organizations (ANA, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, American Organization of Nurse Executives, and the National League for Nursing) focused on leadership for education, practice, and research; endorsed the IOM report; and called for collaboration among stakeholders to advance the report’s recommendations. The Tri-Council agreed that the report provides a plan for elevating nursing’s role in the transformation of our healthcare delivery system and in improving patient care. ANA fully supports these recommendations and is eager to partner with others to develop effective strategies to implement them, as they reflect ANA’s longstanding work on behalf of the nursing profession.
So what’s next? RWJF is urging nurses to join or lead a regional action coalition (RAC). This state-based coalition is charged to bring together a broad range of leaders from every sector—health care, business, education, government, and philanthropy—to work together to transform the role of nurses and increase access to high-quality care. Some of ANA’s constituent member associations already are taking the lead in their states at forging these relationships and developing action plans.
It’s time to get involved. I urge you to read the IOM report or at least the executive summary, join a RAC, and become part of the change. Let’s work together in an interdisciplinary way to create the change we want to see in the nursing profession and healthcare delivery system. I know that together we can do almost anything. Let’s seize this opportunity for ourselves and our patients. Now is the time.
Karen Daley, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN
President, American Nurses Association