The Institute of Medicine recently published “The Future of Nursing,” an infographic that highlights the growing number of nurse practitioners in the U.S. The number of nurse practitioners per primary care doctor more than doubled between 1995 and 2009. These advanced practice registered nurses will help meet rising demand for healthcare services due to the projected 32 million new insured patients under the Affordable Care Act1 and looming shortage of 63,000 physicians by 2015.2 READ MORE

Since 2010, legislation outlined in the Affordable Care Act has guided the U.S. healthcare system through a series of changes aimed at leveraging innovation and technological advances to better meet the needs of millions of new patients. The industry is rapidly evolving to respond to unprecedented challenges, including the rising demand for patient care. READ MORE

We work and play in environments where smoking is now banned, and we are well-versed on the effects of tobacco and secondhand smoke. However, tobacco is still the single most preventable cause of death1 and disability in our country. It is important that we, smokers and non-smokers alike, understand the facts surrounding tobacco usage. READ MORE

Nurse immigration to the United States has tripled since 1994, to close to 15,000 entrants annually. Recruitment of foreign nurses is one of the solutions to the nursing shortage, and the Philippines is a major source country, accounting for more than 30 percent of U.S. foreign-educated nurses. Despite these benefits to the U.S. healthcare system, barriers prevent smooth cultural and professional integration of Filipino nurses and other foreign-educated nurses to U.S. clinical settings. READ MORE

The nursing workplace is evolving and many nurses are being asked to jump on board. Nursing schools are now using mobile health trends to bring a more realistic approach to learning in the classroom, more health systems are hiring nurse practitioners and the American Nurses Association (ANA) is creating new tools to help nurses succeed. Read more about all these changes, as well as two takes on a recent healthcare survey in the Top 5 Nursing Stories You Missed This Week. READ MORE

It’s no secret that America’s healthcare system is evolving. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), millions of citizens will now have access to healthcare insurance, increasing the demand for primary care services within and outside of the traditional hospital setting. The ACA emphasizes the importance of educating the public on disease prevention and community health, changing the way we approach healthcare. Nurses have the opportunity to be part of this evolution, and part of the solution to adapting to this changing healthcare environment in the face of a growing physician shortage.

The September edition of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) policy brief, Charting Nursing’s Future, outlines the following benefits of academic progression in meeting these challenges:

1. A Focus on Community Health

The ACA emphasis on public and community health will send nurses into homes, community centers, schools and other non-hospital environments. They’ll manage care coordination and prevention, and improve quality, safety and efficiency of care delivery in the community. Baccalaureate degree programs provide public and community health content to prepare nurses to meet these needs.

2. Responding to the Nurse Faculty Shortage

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing  reports that U.S. nursing schools turned away 75,587 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2011, due in part to insufficient number of faculty1. This problem will intensify as baby boomers retire from the faculty ranks2. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)-prepared nurses are more likely to continue their education to attain graduate degrees and become part of the solution to the nurse faculty shortage3.

3. Meeting Demand for Primary Care

The primary care physician shortage has driven demand for primary care services nationwide. Nurses educated at the graduate level for nurse practitioner (NP) roles are prepared to help meet these needs. Family nurse practitioners, specifically, are credentialed to perform 60 to 80 percent of primary and preventative care services and treat patients across the age spectrum, so they’re well positioned to increase access to healthcare.

According to the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, NPs who hold a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree are the fastest-growing group of primary care providers. The number of NPs is projected to double by 2025, topping 200,0004. These nurses will help respond to demand created by the growing shortage of primary care physicians, which is expected to exceed 45,000 by 20205.

4. Education Improves Patient Outcomes

Research suggests that nurses with baccalaureate degrees and higher are better prepared to handle professional responsibility and more complex practices. In turn, hospitals that employ a high proportion of BSN-prepared nurses on staff are linked to having better patient outcomes. In its 2010 report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, RWJF outlined positive outcomes researchers connect to BSN staffing in healthcare settings, including “lower incidence of pressure ulcers, postoperative deep vein thrombosis, hospital-acquired infections, and post-surgical mortality.”6

According to RWJF, building a more educated nursing workforce requires a coordinated effort and significant resources. Through advancement of education, nursing institutions can create a stronger nursing workforce, benefiting healthcare nationwide. You can find RWJF’s full September issue of Charting Nursing’s Future here.

1Nursing Faculty Shortage Fact Sheet. American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2012   Kovner CT, Brewer CS, Yingrengreung S, Fairchild S. New Nurses’ Views of Quality Improvement Education. Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. 2010;36 (1): 29-35

2Kovner CT, Brewer CS, Yingrengreung S, Fairchild S. New Nurses’ Views of Quality Improvement Education. Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. 2010;36 (1): 29-35

3Kovner CT, Brewer CS, Yingrengreung S, Fairchild S. New Nurses’ Views of Quality Improvement Education. Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. 2010;36 (1): 29-35

4Kovner CT, Brewer CS, Yingrengreung S, Fairchild S. New Nurses’ Views of Quality Improvement Education. Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. 2010;36 (1): 29-35

5[Infographic] Family Nurse Practitioner: A Supercharged Career Path. Chamberlain College of Nursing.

6The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Institute of Medicine, 2010