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. http://blog.chamberlain.edu/2013/08/12/family-nurse-practitioner-to-the-rescue/

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


Nurses are traditionally known for their quick thinking and perseverance. This week’s Top 5 Nursing News Stories You Missed highlight the many other qualities of the modern nurse, as portrayed through nurse inventors, advocates, change leaders and clinical leaders. From “MacGyver nurses” to nurse policymakers, nurses today are making their voices heard.

‘MacGyver’ Nurses Build Their Own Solutions

MIT’s Little Devices Lab, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, launched MakerNurse to identify and honor nurse innovation in the healthcare system. MakerNurse aims to study nurse making in hospitals and identify ways to better support inventive nurses. Read more about MakerNurse at Health Leaders Media.

American Nurses Association Calls Shutdown ‘Irresponsible & Harmful’

The American Nurses Association took a stand this week on the government shutdown, urging members of Congress to find a solution. The organization stressed that due to the shutdown, the National Institutes of Health clinical research center will be forced to turn away 200 patients each week. The ANA also urged action in light of the upcoming flu season, noting that “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are not monitoring how influenza is spreading across the country and are not able to support state and local partners for infectious disease surveillance.” Read more about the ANA’s remarks on the government shutdown at ADVANCE for Nurses.

A More Perfect Union

When two hospitals or healthcare organizations merge, nurses often report feeling overwhelmed and unsure about their professional future. However, mergers often bring positive changes for nurses and patients, including a stronger patient care offering, increased job security and room for growth. Learn more about how hospital mergers affect nurses at Nurse.com.

Nurse Practitioners More Satisfied With Their Job Choice than Docs

A recent Staff Care survey reports that 96 percent of 222 nurse practitioners (NPs) surveyed at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners annual meeting said if they had the chance to redo their careers, they would become NPs again. In comparison, 40 percent of doctors would pick a different career path. Read more about the NP survey results at Fierce Healthcare.

Want to Reduce Readmissions? Hire More Nurses, Study Says

A new study conducted by Health Affairs has the industry buzzing. Researchers found that hospitals with higher nurse staffing have lower odds of readmissions penalties than hospitals with lower staffing. Hospitals are considered high-staffed if they had an average of eight registered nurse hours per adjusted patient day. A larger nursing staff also provides nurses with more time and resources to make readmission reduction strategies work. Find out more about reducing readmission rates with nurse staffing at Med City News.



Every woman is at risk for breast cancer, and men are not immune either. Michelle Pry Isacson, MSN, WHNP-BC, APN, maternal-child nursing and informatics instructor at Chamberlain College of Nursing in Addison, Ill., provides the following proactive tips to monitor breast health and help reduce your risk of breast cancer. READ MORE

Nurses dedicate their lives to caring for others. When the demands of the profession rise, nurses often forget to take time out to care for themselves. Heather Matthews, MSN, RN, is a clinical practice leader in the emergency department of the Hospital of Pennsylvania. She launched an innovative program to help nurses de-stress and feel cared for in their place of work.  Lean more about Matthews’ innovative program and other nursing newsmakers in this week’s Top 5 Nursing News Stories You Missed This Week: READ MORE

Today’s nurses come from diverse backgrounds, enroll in unique degree programs and enter a variety of specializations. Read on for more about the many faces of nursing in the following news stories you missed this week:

Ex-Hockey Player Starts New Life as Nurse

Less than two years ago, Jim Ennis was captain of the UMass-Boston hockey team. Today, he is a certified registered nurse working toward his master’s degree at UMass Medical School. Surprisingly, Jim’s desire to enter the nursing profession wasn’t born out of his experience witnessing sports injuries. He was inspired by his own experience as a 13-year-old hospital patient. Learn more about Jim’s desire to help others at the Boston Globe.

RNs Work Together to Create “Bedside the Musical” As Way to Teach Others About Profession’s History

Mary Walsh, RN, BSN, and Peg McKeon, RN, BSN, wanted to introduce a way for nurses to acquire education in an engaging, entertaining way. In 2011, this dream became a reality when they held the first live performance of “Bedside the Musical,” which was approved for 1.7 CE credits by the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association. Read more about how RNs are earning CEs through a musical at Nurse.com.

Thriving as an Older Student

Many nurses in their 40s, 50s and 60s are enrolled or planning to head back to classrooms, worried about rusty study skills and fitting classes into an already packed schedule. Minority Nurse offers tips to reduce the stress that will accompany this new chapter in life. Read on for strategies from older students who successfully juggled school, family and jobs while working on a first, second or third degree in Minority Nurse.

Employment Opportunities in Senior Care

The growing number of older Americans has created many new opportunities for registered nurses specialized in senior care. But what are the hiring requirements? What type of care do seniors require? And what is a typical work schedule? Learn the answers to these questions and more in this Q&A from Scrubs magazine.

Nurse Navigators Help Guide Patients Through Breast Cancer Journey

More than 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. At one hospital in Kansas, breast health nurse navigators help women understand the information and emotions that come with being a breast cancer patient. According to the National Cancer Institute, nurse navigators are becoming more common because they improve quality of care and healthy outcomes. Read registered nurse Terri Leschuk’s story of healing as a breast health nurse navigator at Kansas.com.