Throughout modern history, the profession of nursing has evolved from untrained nurses caring for the sick and wounded on bloodied battlefields to professional, licensed nurses who have responsibilities far greater than their ancestors could have predicted. With the population growing, highly educated nurses are in demand more than ever. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released their report in 2010 titled, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. In this document, the problems that arise due to undereducated nurses and ineffective leadership are addressed (Institute of Medicine, 2010). How can the nursing profession move forward to aid in the transformation of our growing healthcare needs? IOM and the Impact on Nursing Education
In the United States, the most widely used pathway to a registered nursing license is through local community colleges offering ADN degrees. To obtain a workforce of 80% baccalaureate trained nurses by 2020, the IOM report suggest that community colleges offer ways to effortlessly transition into a BSN program or provide their own baccalaureate program and they must promote the ideology that you should obtain your BSN degree after graduation (Institute of Medicine, 2010). Academic progression is vital for the well being of our patient population. As technology and medical advancements change, nurses need to continually seek out further education in order to stay on track with their nursing skills (Institute of Medicine, 2010).
The IOM also finds that most schools are not educating their future nurses with the community setting, such as public health and long-term care, at the forefront of the curriculum. Acute care has always been the focus as well as traditional specialties. Nursing education needs to be revamped in order to adapt to the changes ahead. Many schools are adding new content that focuses on prevention, wellness and care coordination (Institute of Medicine, 2010). These changes will help prepare nurses to tackle different avenues and not just the acute, hospital setting. IOM and the Impact on Nursing Practice
The Institute of Medicine states, “Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training” (Institute of Medicine, 2010). The United States healthcare system has been advancing to take the focus away from acute hospital care to primary care. The objective is to treat the condition before acute care is necessary. In order to do this, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) should be utilized to their fullest extent. One problem that is arising is the growing number of new medical students moving away from primary care. This shortage is a prime example of why nurse practitioners are so significant to the nursing work force. A variety of problems exist such as outdated policies and regulations that prevent nurses from practicing to their fullest ability. By eliminating these checks, nurses would have more of an opportunity to develop their responsibilities in the healthcare system. Making the shift to primary care will help reduce medical errors, improve quality of care and patient safety (Institute of Medicine, 2010).
After having reviewed the IOM report, The Future of Nursing, Leading Change, Advancing Health, I have come to realize how important continuing education is for registered nurses. We are the bridge between patient and doctor and by being a more prominent presence in the community; we can make changes to our nations fragmented healthcare system. IOM and the Impact on Nursing Leadership
In order to obtain the goals set forth in the IOM report, all nurses, prospective and licensed, need to look at themselves as leaders. The role of many health care professionals has become more independent over the years. This is one of the main concerns of the IOM report. Nurses needs to become full partners in the medical field in order to facilitate this move towards more leadership. Even though the general population isn’t accustomed to seeing nurses as leaders, and not all nurses start their profession with thoughts of becoming a leader, all nurses must be leaders “in the design, achievement, and evaluation of, as well as encouragement for, the ongoing reforms to the system that will be needed” (Institute of Medicine, 2010). Nurses must continue to research and strive to improve care. The report states, every healthcare professional involved in health care has more than one part to play. The IOM is in search for “a style of leadership that involves working with others as full partners in a context of mutual respect and collaboration ”(Institute of Medicine, 2010). The role of many health care professionals has become more independent over the years and that is one of the main concerns founded in the IOM report.
The goals set forth by the Institute of Medicine’s report can be fully realized if all governing bodies, regulatory agencies, and healthcare professionals come together to do what’s right for our countries healthcare needs. Continued education for nurses, more primary care advanced practice nurses and building the leadership of all registered nurses is the key to a successful healthcare system that prides itself on prevention rather than prescription.
IOM (Institute of Medicine). 2011. The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.