An Analysis of the “Future of Nursing” Report

Nurses play a major role in delivering healthcare services to patients and providing them with necessary assistance. “The Future of Nursing” is a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Committee Initiative, which was created to address the existing challenges of the American healthcare system and particularly of the nursing workforce. Originally published in 2010, more than ten years later, it is evident that the document has had a significant impact on the nursing profession in the U.S. Thus, it becomes important to analyze the real implications of the report more thoroughly and to establish its effects on all aspects of nursing.

Before writing the report, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Committee Initiative had to conduct extensive research on the topic of nursing. The ultimate goal of this mission was to develop a set of ideas and recommendations which would be sound and would guide the healthcare system stakeholders in ensuring better nursing practice in the future. The initial decision to produce the report was motivated by the changing environment of the U.S. healthcare system. Essentially, the growing number of older citizens, as well as an increasing life expectancy, were projected to lead to considerable demand for medical services, including nursing ones. The Committee Initiative worked to find solutions to this problem which would help transform the nursing workforce to be more future-oriented (Sullivan, 2018). Additionally, it sought to design a clearly-defined plan which would cover all the important areas necessary for successfully implementing the recommendations outlined in the paper.

The report contains numerous recommendations and provides the readers with an invaluable insight into the effective tools for transforming the nursing profession to be better adjusted to the future. Yet, there are four main messages which have to be discussed in detail since they were, first of all, stressed by the authors and were the most influential in terms of impact on nursing. The first one concerns the necessity to substantially grow the number of nurses with a bachelor’s degree to expand the portion of professionals with higher education. To achieve it, nurses have to be provided with an opportunity for seamless educational progression and training. The report mentioned the ambitious goal of 80% of nurses with a baccalaureate degree by 2020. Even though it was not achieved, the report certainly contributed to the increase in the number of such professionals, which rose from 49% in 2010 to 57% in 2018 (Campaign, 2020). The report also caused more universities to offer bachelor’s programs by clearly defining the demand for nurses with this degree in the future.

The second message conveyed by the report was the need to remove all the practice barriers, primarily legal ones, which prevented nurses from utilizing all of their competencies and working to the full extent of their training and education. Since 2010, there has been serious progress in this sphere, with ten states, including South Dakota, Massachusetts, and Nevada, changing their legislation to provide nursing specialists with more opportunities to apply their knowledge (Campaign, 2021). Moreover, at least eight states have made substantial improvements that granted nurses authority in their practice with certain exceptions, for example, in terms of drug prescriptions.

The third message outlined in the report concerned the need to allow nurses to partner with other medical specialists such as physicians to introduce changes to the U.S. healthcare system. Since the publication of the report, many nurses have started serving on health-related and corporate boards and commissions, and today, there are more than 10,000 nursing professionals occupying such positions (Campaign, 2021). This allows nurses to participate in decision-making and lead innovation in the healthcare industry. Finally, the fourth message of the report was about the importance of gathering workforce data to assist managers and leaders in their employment decisions and prevent shortages. Currently, almost all states, except three ones, collect nurse supply data; additionally, a substantial number of states also track nurse demand and education program data (Campaign, 2021). All of the developments in the spheres ranging from nursing practice to workforce development suggest that the report has influenced the profession to a great extent.

State-based action coalitions are led by nurses with a mission to establish local professional networks and engage all the stakeholders in implementing the recommendations proposed by the “Future of Nursing” report. Such coalitions play a major role in the advancement of the report’s goals since they possess the capacity to effect change at a local level (Altman et al., 2016). The coalitions develop their strategies, yet the methods are practically the same in all branches. The members of the coalition try to persuade the local politicians, medical agencies, universities, and hospitals about the importance of the transformation of the healthcare system. They also advise the state authorities on the correct decisions in the medical sphere by, for example, explaining the benefits of removing the barriers to nursing practice.

Arizona also has its action coalition, which was established in 2012 and since that time has managed to significantly promote the recommendations of the report. One of its major products was done in partnership with Arizona State University and focused on the inventory of data sources for interprofessional health care professions. The main finding of the research was the discovery of state regulatory boards as the primary sources of data (Center for Health, 2018). This initiative can help local officials to better understand the distribution of nurses in the state and make educated decisions based on it. Another project of the Arizona Action Coalition was undertaken in collaboration with Vitalyst Health Foundation and concerned the creation of a policy primer dedicated to community health workers. This initiative contributed to the advancement of the nursing profession since it identified the existing gaps in the state’s healthcare infrastructure, which the authorities could learn about and address.

Currently, the state has a variety of barriers to the advancement of the nursing profession, which the Arizona Action Coalition attempts to resolve. The main one is the lack of data collection on nurse demand in the state. Yet, the coalition is working on this issue by engaging in discussions with the officials and managers of hospitals. Additionally, there is a lack of representation of ethnic and racial minorities in the nursing profession in Arizona. The coalition is devoted to resolving this issue by campaigning among the communities and inviting people of color to start a career in nursing.

The report “The Future of Nursing” by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Committee Initiative outlined recommendations that have considerably influenced the nursing profession over the past ten years. It highlighted the necessity to improve the level of education of nurses, remove barriers that stop them from practicing to their full extent, establish better interprofessional cooperation, and expand nursing data collection. Today, significant advancements in all four areas are visible, but there are still issues that require to be addressed. Arizona Action Coalition is a local group of advocates committed to promoting and implementing the recommendation of the report. Over the years of its existence, it completed several projects which were effective in advancing the nursing profession in the state.

References

Altman, S. H., Butler, A. S., and Shern, L. (Eds.). (2016). Assessing progress on the institute of medicine report the future of nursing. National Academies Press.

Campaign for Action. (2020). Welcome to the future of nursing: Campaign for action dashboard.

Campaign for Action. (2021). Welcome to the future of nursing: Campaign for action dashboard.

Center for Health Information and Research. (2018). Arizona’s primary healthcare workforce 2008‐2016.

Sullivan, T. (2018,). Institute of Medicine report – The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. Policy & Medicine.