Grand Canyon University
October 12, 2014
Advancing Nursing Care into the 21st Century
We live in a time and place where advances are taking place exponentially. Healthcare systems are changing, patient population is more diverse, and disease increasingly complex. Research and technological advances are at odds to safely and effectively meet the demands. Our delivery of care too must reform. Research conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) have accumulated data from various aspects of the medical field of the United States and put forth recommendations in which Registered Nurses have an influential role in our rapidly changing health care system and health care demands. RWJF and IOM created a report on these findings, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health (Institute of Medicine, 2010). The report provides a detailed account for the groundwork where changes will need to take place to effectively meet societal medical demands and the intricate role of nurses. Producing highly educated, professional nurses who provide a higher standard of care, and are leaders in the medical field are vital.
Although remarkable medical advances have taken place over the years, the advancement of education and training of Registered Nurses (RN) has been relatively low. Education is the cornerstone, and the foundation for which change can take place. For those reasons a great deal of the recommendations put forth in The Future of Nursing is focused on a higher standard of education and holding educators accountable to ensure the safety and efficacy of RN’s. As results of studies indicated improved patient outcomes (with the more highly educated nurse at bedside), the need to continue the role of RN’s as educators, as well as strong advocates of change, within the health care system must escalate. IOM have recommended an increase from current 50% to 80% of Registered Nurses to hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and the number of nurses to obtain Doctoral degrees to double by the year 2020. Health organizations should encourage advancement by means of incentives such as promotions, benefit packages, and increased wages. Accessibility and ease of pursuing higher education should be “seamless” as put forth by the IOM report, with appropriate funding sources to pursue such degrees. There is also the request for increased number of residency programs, for which nurses with advanced degrees have the ability to make a smoother more effective transition into the clinical setting (Institute of Medicine, 2010).
By utilizing education to the full potential primary care provided by a Registered Nurse will improve the patient’s benefits within their care and the companies for which they work. Primary care can be defined by the Institute of Medicine as “the provision of integrated, accessible health care services by clinicians who are accountable for addressing a large majority of personal health care needs, developing a sustained partnership with patients, and practicing in the context of family and community”(Institute of Medicine, 1996). This person provides not only pivotal assessment, medical care, but acts as a liaison for other disciplines such as therapist, outreach programs or coordination of care with other health care providers and specialists. Changing health care needs of the public, changing health care system and 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148); increase the demands of public health care. This has lead to a shortage of health care providers to meet the demand. Organizations such as National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice (NACNEP) are recognizing the nurses’ role in primary care as a critical component in providing quality care, greater accessibility, and greater cost effectiveness in