CommunityOff the Charts

Can nurses help fix US healthcare?

By: Julie Cullen

By Julie Cullen, Managing Editor, American Nurse Today

Reshaping healthcare in the United States requires an understanding and focus on the social determinants of health, disease and injury prevention, and a culture of wellness, according to Azita Emami, dean of the University of Washington School of Nursing. Emami addressed what she calls “America’s ailing healthcare,” in a recent opinion piece. She believes that nurses can help fix it.

Already, many nursing schools are expanding their goals, facilities, and curricula to address recommendations from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) 2011 report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. These schools are expanding to educate more nurses to a higher level of practice. The number of nurses who hold doctoral degrees doubled between 2011 and 2017, so there are now more than 28,000.

To plan for the future, the National Academy of Medicine established the Committee on the Future of Nursing 2020-2030. The committee’s goal is to “extend the vision for the nursing profession into 2030 and to chart a path for the nursing profession to help our nation create a culture of health, reduce health disparities, and improve the health and well-being of the U.S. population in the 21st century.” Those are ambitious goals, but the committee…and the profession…are prepared to take them on to ensure that the U.S. healthcare system is efficient, equitable, accessible, and affordable for everyone.




  • Damaris Vieira
    July 5, 2019 7:42 am

    I share the heart of Marcia in that “old school nursing” was more effective in delivering patient care. Lets face it, one goes to hospitals for 24 hour nursing care. Today, we only care about resolving symptoms and discharging to save money. Where has the heart and brain gone to that advocated for patients. Bring that back!
    Katherine- so on point! Capital greed! Reduce those upper incomes to lower prices. Get the medical staff back in CHARGE! NOT the big companies!

  • Karen Johnson
    July 5, 2019 12:25 am

    I believe nurses have a pivotal role in health care and should be involved in the fix of healthcare. I agree somewhat with what Marcia Hudson and Katherine Kunkel commented. I believe nurse patient ratio has a lot to do with the clinical care delivered. Nurses at the bedside go home exhausted and wishing they had time to do more for their patients. Many go without lunch and bathroom breaks to provide care and many tasks are still left to the next shift. Having Doctorate prepared nurses is great but what does that do at the bedside? Will these nurses be providing primary care the critically ill and if so will hospitals be willing to pay the Doctorate nurse?

  • Marcia Hudson
    July 3, 2019 4:14 am

    Sometimes I see many of the statement on nursing and midwifery as a backward evolvement. I am a soon retiring nurse and midwife, qualified respectfully in 1985 and 1987.
    It saddens me to read that Nursing Schools are to be expanded to educate more nurses to a higher level of practice – when I know that the level of expertise that was delivered in the 1970’s-late 90’s far exceeded the overall clinical care being delivered over the past decade. The decline in clinical safety and overall practice can only be improved as in the past decade, it has deteriorated – is that solely because of Nursing Schools – I think not. Additionally, I question whether an increase in nurses holding doctoral degrees, will fix health care. Although, in my day Nurses left the profession with a diploma (which should never had happen as we were in essence degree trained) by the 3rd year of training – nurses contributed and understood the fiscal, value and worth of the nurse and how we impacted the holistic cost of health care, the profession and professionals.
    Based, on the question ‘can nurses fix the health care’ my answer is absolutely yes – we are probably the only group that can.

  • Katherine Kunkel
    July 2, 2019 5:34 pm

    Enjoyed the article, I am a registered nurse and I agree that nurse’s play a pivotal role in health care. I applaud the discussion and extending the vision for the nursing profession.
    Unfortunately, you cannot fix human behavior that revolves around “profit”. Why should a CEO of a insurance company earn $18,000,000.00 annually? Why are medications so expensive, when the family of Purdue Pharmacuetical net worth is $13 billion? Why is health care so expensive that surgery costs more than the average American’s yearly income?
    Fix that and we may have something to celebrate.

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