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IOM Report Offers Glimpse of Nursing's Future

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media, October 12, 2010

The link between nurses' educational preparation and patient outcomes has been demonstrated in numerous studies. Assorted professional organizations and scholarly reports have made this call before, so is there anything that will make this occasion different? A lot of organizations already offer tuition reimbursement for associate degree nurses to obtain baccalaureates, and yet we still hover at around 50%. It remains to be seen what strategies the committee will eventually recommend, but the report does says that public and private organizations should provide resources to help nurses with associate degrees pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing within five years of graduation and to help nursing schools ensure that at least 10% of their baccalaureate graduates enter a master's or doctoral program within five years.

Along the same topic, the report acknowledges the difficulty new nurses have in transitioning from education to practice and its recommendation that the profession institute residency training will shine a lot more attention on this important issue. Residency programs help new nurses bridge the gap from education to practice and, when done correctly, help set them on the course for lifelong learning.

The most controversial side of the report so far has been the call for nurses to practice to the full scope of their practice. The committee acknowledges that to meet the increasing demands for healthcare at a time of significant demographic and health system changes in this country, we need to tap the capabilities of advanced practice registered nurses (APRN).

It is this role of APRNs in primary care that is most controversial and received a swift response from the American Medical Association.

"With a shortage of both physicians and nurses and millions more insured Americans, healthcare professionals will need to continue working together to meet the surge in demand for healthcare," said Rebecca J. Patchin, MD, board member of the AMA. "A physician-led team approach to care—with each member of the team playing the role they are educated and trained to play—helps ensure patients get high-quality care and value for their healthcare spending.

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2 comments on "IOM Report Offers Glimpse of Nursing's Future"


Graham M. Suggs (11/4/2010 at 12:06 PM)
While in nursing school in Texas in 1975 the idea proposed was for a BSN to be the entry level for all nurses. Nothing has been accomplished and now we have a report that states 80% of nurses will have BSN's by 2020. I have worked at the bedside for my entire career and actually seen the collaboration between the physician and nursing deteriorate in that the model of evidenced based practice places us in boxes that we are to follow and stifles creative problem solving for health care. Not all patients fit into the same box all the time and to care for the ongoing health care of a patient requires each and everyone of us to think outside of the box.

Jeanenne Watters RN MSN CPHQ (10/14/2010 at 12:01 PM)
Two thoughts: 1) I'd challenge any RN with an ADN to do an RN to MSN program. Takes about the same amount of time as earning a BSN. 2) We need to resolve the shortage of nurse educators before we can demand any RN to obtain further education.