The Future of Nursing explores how nurses' roles, responsibilities, and education should change significantly to meet the increased demand for care that will be created by health care reform and to advance improvements in America's increasingly complex health system.
At more than 3 million in number, nurses make up the single largest segment of the health care work force. They also spend the greatest amount of time in delivering patient care as a profession. Nurses therefore have valuable insights and unique abilities to contribute as partners with other health care professionals in improving the quality and safety of care as envisioned in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) enacted this year.
Nurses should be fully engaged with other health professionals and assume leadership roles in redesigning care in the United States. To ensure its members are well-prepared, the profession should institute residency training for nurses, increase the percentage of nurses who attain a bachelor's degree to 80 percent by 2020, and double the number who pursue doctorates. Furthermore, regulatory and institutional obstacles -- including limits on nurses' scope of practice -- should be removed so that the health system can reap the full benefit of nurses' training, skills, and knowledge in patient care.
In this book, the Institute of Medicine makes recommendations for an action-oriented blueprint for the future of nursing.