Ten years ago, the Robert Wood Johnson foundation and the Institute if Medicine (now the Institutes of Science) published a report with recommendations for the future of nursing. The challenges to the profession included:
Increasing the number of doctoral prepared nurses;
Increasing the percentage of BSN prepared nurses to 80% by 2020;
Expanding the scope of nursing practice to its full extent-including the work of Nurse Practitioners,
Better collection of data and information about the profession, and;
Improvement in seamless education paths for nurses at all levels.
The good news is that headway has been made in adding doctoral prepared nurses into the profession at a high rate. Additionally, about 56% of nurses are now educated at the BSN level and more states are expanding regulations for the practice of nurse practitioners. More colleges and universities are streamlining education for practicing nurses to become BSNs via online and accelerated programs. Though progress is being made, it is apparent that the goal of “80 by20” will not be met.
Despite this work, the future of nursing faces challenges that we need to address. Examples include violence against nurses, unequal distribution of supply and demand for nurses across the country, working conditions and salary limitations. Additionally, nurses must work hard to remain current with new technology and shorter inpatient stays. Hospitalized patients are critically ill, and the ranks of family caregivers are dwindling. We also face the aging of the US population at the same time we face the aging of the nursing population. There is a need to continue to diversify the nursing workforce bringing men and minority students to the table.
State Boards of Nursing, Professional Organizations and regulators need to work collaboratively to address the issues that confront not only nursing, but healthcare in general. Political and financial uncertainties escalate our challenges.
Nursing faces a productive, growing and demanding future. It requires that practicing nurses and academics join forces and advocate for the resources we need to continue to care for patients. I will continue to share ideas to move nursing forward.