Oct 21, 2015

The Future of Nursing Is Here: Campaign Marks Five Years of Progress

Five years ago, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health made an urgent case for transforming nursing to bring better health to more Americans. Soon after, AARP and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) joined forces to create the Future of Nursing:Campaign for Action, with the goal of making the IOM’s recommendations reality and giving more Americans more access to high-quality, patient-centered, affordable care.

Coordinated by the Center to Champion Nursing in America, an initiative of AARP, AARP Foundation, and RWJF, the Campaign has been a catalyst for nationwide changes that include modernized scope laws giving consumers greater access to care; updated education guidelines easing the way for nursing students to enroll and graduate with higher academic degrees; and increased diversity in the field. The Campaign has also focused on nurse leadership, helping more nurses move into positions of influence, taking on roles to help shape health care policy.

“I applaud the progress of the Campaign for Action in implementing the IOM’s recommendations and creating healthier communities for everyone in America,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, president and CEO of RWJF. “If being and staying as healthy as possible is to become a shared core value, we must foster individual and community actions that promote a strong and inclusive Culture of Health. Nurses are powerful forces for change throughout our lives, across both clinical and community settings, and are well-positioned to do just that.”

With the help of its 51 Action Coalitions (in each state, plus the District of Columbia), the Campaign has pushed for change at the national and state levels by collaborating with an array of stakeholders: consumers, insurers, employers, funders, policymakers, and leaders from nursing organizations, health care systems, and higher education. Since 2010, the Action Coalitions together have leveraged their funding from RWJF to bring in an additional $17 million to advance their work.

The Campaign will mark its five-year anniversary at a national summit this December in Washington, D.C., bringing together its Action Coalitions and stakeholders to shape the next phase of its work. The summit will include a review of new findings from the IOM (see separate story) and a chance to learn more about RWJF’s Culture of Health, a vision for building healthier communities in America, which the Campaign is embracing.

Among the Campaign’s proudest achievements to date:
  • Access to Care: After many years with little progress, eight states in five years have changed their laws, now letting nurses provide services to those in need to the full extent of their medical education and training. Additional states have made incremental improvements. That means consumers have greater access to care when and where they need it. In all, 20 states and the District of Columbia have pulled down barriers to care, giving consumers full access to nurse practitioners for their health needs.
  • Education: Higher education for nurses means better care and healthier communities, so the Campaignhas worked to remove obstacles that make it difficult for nurses to obtain higher academic degrees. For the first time, as of 2012, the number of nurses graduating with Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees surpassed the number of those earning associate degrees, according to a study published inNursing Economic$, and the number of students enrolled in RN-to-BSN programs increased 69 percent from 2010 to 2014, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). The Campaignis working closely with nursing schools and accrediting bodies to create academic models that help nurses become highly trained practitioners more quickly. In addition, a Medicare pilot program is now paying for the education of advanced practice registered nurses at five sites.
  • Leadership: Nurses are able, caring, and trusted—yet also woefully underrepresented as decision-makers on boards and committees. The Campaign is working to change that in several ways, such as convening more than 20 national nursing organizations that together formed the Nurses on Boards Coalition (NOBC). The NOBC, launched as an independent organization in August with a grant provided by RWJF to the American Nurses Foundation, has a goal of seating 10,000 nurses on boards by 2020.
  • Diversity: An increasingly multicultural population demands an equally diverse health care system, and so the face of nursing is changing slowly but surely. Some 30 percent of students at the baccalaureate, master’s, doctoral, and doctor of nursing practice program levels represent minority populations; male students represented nearly 12 percent of baccalaureate and nearly 11 percent of graduate nursing students in 2014, up from 9 percent in 2005, according to the AACN.

While findings from the new IOM report will shed light on what areas need more focus, it is clear that theCampaign is already strengthening America’s health through nursing and has created a powerful foundation on which to build a Culture of Health, with nurses helping lead the way.

This story appeared in the October 2015 issue of Advancing Health: News from the Campaign for Action