The Future of Nursing

Role of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine or National Academies wrote “The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity”. This report is the second collaboration between the National Academies and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) (Hassmiller & Wakefield, 2022). The initial report, which was published in 2010, gave a new perspective on how nurses can change healthcare. In 2019, RWJF requested the National Academies to create a committee to determine how nurses can build a healthy culture, lessen health disparities, and enhance the nation’s health and well-being. The committee was already working on the report when the pandemic occurred, and the latter highlighted the widespread health inequalities in the nation. Consequently, the committee postponed the report to include key observations from the pandemic. The National Academies published the report in May 2021.

Trends in the Nursing Workforce and Adaptation of Nursing Education

A trend occurring in the nursing workforce is the increasing awareness of the link between inequities and poorer health status. Due to advancements in the nursing field, such as better education, advanced practice, and increased workforce diversity, nurses are increasingly perceived as having a role in building healthier communities and advancing equity (Hassmiller & Wakefield, 2022). Due to this trend, nursing education is adapting to meet the profession’s changing requirements. Topics, such as social factors affecting health, health disparities, and overall population health were occasionally not included well in nursing education. However, academic programs are adapting and teaching nurses to be prepared to address these factors.

Nurse’s Role

Nurses lead change by ensuring everyone receives fair and quality healthcare to address the connection between inequities and poor health. Nurses work to make healthcare better for everyone by fighting for equal treatment and determining what each patient requires. By spreading awareness and using evidence-based practices, nurses help create a fair healthcare system that aims for improved health outcomes.

Role of State-based Coalitions

State-based action coalitions are groups that cooperate in a state to achieve nursing and healthcare goals. Based on the report, the National Academies have set goals to help nurses by removing obstacles to care, recognizing their contributions, preparing them to address health equity, and making the workforce more diverse (Hassmiller & Wakefield, 2022). Consequently, the coalitions can advocate for changes in state policies to eliminate barriers that prevent nurses from providing quality care and promote awareness of nurses’ valuable contributions through public campaigns and policy discussions. The coalitions can further work with educational institutions to integrate content on healthcare disparities into nursing education, initiate efforts to diversify the nursing workforce, and partner with local communities to determine their specific healthcare needs and customize interventions accordingly. These coalitions drive change by influencing policies, fostering inclusivity, and actively engaging with communities to advance nursing goals and promote health equity.

Initiatives of a State’s Action Coalition

The California Action Coalition aims to improve healthcare through nursing. This group already facilitates several initiatives and its goal is to provide long-term sustainable change to boost the population’s health (Campaign for Action, 2024a). Two initiatives led by this coalition include the Academic Progression in Nursing program (APIN) and the Summer Health Institute for Nurse Exploration and Success program (SHINES).

APIN supports strategies to make it easier for nurses to attain higher degrees and find jobs. The program’s objective is to increase the number of active and educative nurses to provide quality care in different settings (Campaign for Action, 2024b). APIN advocates that four out of every five nurses should have a bachelor’s degree by 2020. To achieve this, it funds efforts to help nursing students attain their Bachelor of Science in Nursing by eliminating barriers, such as by transferring credits between universities and community colleges and creating partnerships between academic and health institutions (Campaign for Action, 2024b). These partnerships offer practical experiences and job opportunities to nursing students.

SHINES aims to establish a diverse healthcare workforce. The latter should be capable of caring for the 100 million older adults and their families living in the United States (Peed, 2023). The program is a fourteen-day summer camp at the University of California Davis Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, and it introduces young adults and teens to not only nursing as a career but also associated professions in the field of healthcare (Peed, 2023). During the program, those involved gain healthcare career knowledge and training including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification, mentorship, expert skill development, and career and campus guiding competencies (Peed, 2023). Additionally, the participants not only receive incentives, such as monetary awards, for getting certified but also have a higher likelihood of receiving employment quickly, particularly in healthcare positions that are urgently required.

Barriers to Advancement

The state experiences several barriers to advancement in nursing including educational obstacles, scope-of-practice restrictions, workforce shortages, poor levels of diversity and inclusion, and a lack of professional recognition. Several people struggle to join and finish nursing school because of limited program capacity, lack of resources, or financial constraints. Some rules in the state limit what certain nurses can do, making it difficult for them to help patients fully. High demand for nursing services and shortages in the nursing workforce can limit career advancement opportunities. Barriers related to diversity and inclusion may limit opportunities for people from underrepresented groups to enter and advance their careers as nurses. A lack of recognition for the contributions of nurses can limit professional advancement.

Despite these challenges, nursing supporters in the state can overcome them by offering support for education funding, advocating for legislative changes regarding the scope-of-practice, implementing workforce development initiatives, promoting diversity and inclusion, and holding public awareness campaigns. Nursing advocates in California may engage in lobbying efforts and partnerships with policymakers to secure funding for nursing education programs. This engagement can address capacity issues and financial barriers for potential nurses. Moreover, these advocates can try to change state laws so that nurses can use all their skills to better aid patients instead of being restricted legally. Nursing advocates may work with not only healthcare and academic institutions but also policymakers to implement workforce development initiatives that address shortages, improve training opportunities, and provide ways for nurses to further their careers. The advocates want to make sure that there is more diversity in nursing, and as a result, they support plans to introduce people from different backgrounds and make workplaces more inclusive. The advocates can further participate in public awareness campaigns to highlight how important nurses are in healthcare. This can contribute to increased recognition and appreciation for the profession, which in turn, may result in better working conditions and career advancement opportunities.

References

Campaign for Action (2024a). California Action Coalition. https://campaignforaction.org/state/california/

Campaign for Action (2024b). RWJF Academic Progression in Nursing. https://campaignforaction.org/our-network/grantee-and-award-programs/academic-progression-in-nursing/

Hassmiller, S. B., & Wakefield, M. K. (2022). The future of nursing 2020–2030: Charting a path to achieve health equity. Nursing Outlook, 70(6), S1-S9.

Peed, J. (2023). Preparing Teens and Young Adults for Health Care Careers. Campaign for Action. https://campaignforaction.org/preparing-teens-and-young-adults-for-health-care-careers/

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