Don’t be fooled by the “ho-hum” key messages (as in “What’s new?”) of the Institute of Medicine’s 2010 report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. “What’s new?” was my reaction when I started reading it. Here’s the short version: Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education. Nurses should get more education. Nurses should be equal partners with doctors, etc. We need better data collection. My eyes started to glaze over, and I thought, “The only thing new in this report is the fact that the IOM published it!”
It turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong. When I got to the recommendations, I said to myself, “Like, wow!”. I could hardly believe my eyes—and coming from the IOM no less!
Here are the recommendations in a nutshell.
1. “Remove scope-of-practice barriers.” This is followed be specific recommendations to Congress, the state legislatures, CMS, FTC, etc. This is beautiful!
2. “Expand opportunities for nurses to lead and diffuse collaborative improvement efforts.” This effort is expanded to include the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), private funders, and healthcare organizations.
3. “Implement nurse residency programs.” (Be still my heart!) The report urges state boards, accrediting bodies, the federal government, and healthcare organizations to get on board to enable their development!
4. “Increase the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree to 80% by 2020.” Nursing academics “should partner with education accrediting bodies, private and public funders, and employers to ensure funding, monitor progress, and increase the diversity of students to create a workforce prepared to meet the demands of diverse populations across the lifespan.”
5. “Double the number of nurses with a doctorate by 2020…to add to the cadre of rapidly aging nurse faculty…with attention to increasing diversity.”
6. Ensure that nurses engage in lifelong learning. Lots of good recommendations, but the only way to do this effectively is to mandate it.
7. Prepare and enable nurses to lead change to advance health…public, private, and governmental healthcare decision makers should ensure that leadership positions are available to and filled by nurses.”
8. “Build an infrastructure for collecting and analyzing interprofessional health care workforce data…The National Health Care Workforce Commission, with oversight from the Government Accountability Office and the Health Resources and Services Administration, should lead a collaborative effort to improve…collection and analysis of data on health care workforce requirements….and collaborate with state licensing boards, state nursing workforce centers, and the Department of Labor… to ensure that the data are timely and publicly accessible.”
If any of the recommendations are adopted – or better yet, mandated – the world of nursing will turn around. Rapidly. And actually, the federal government could pretty much see to it that recommendations 1, 3 and 7 are implemented without much effort. If that happens, the rest of the recommendations will surely follow.
To appreciate the recommendations firsthand (and even enjoy yourself), download them from the website free: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12956. Copies are available from the National Academies Press at 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242; or you can order online at www.nap.edu. Additional information on the report is available at www.iom.edu/nursing.