Update on the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action

Martha Kirk Swartz, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN


J Pediatr Health Care. 2012;26(3):159-160. 

Abstract and Introduction


In October 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released its report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, which was the result of a 2-year initiative launched by the IOM and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to produce a report that would make recommendations for an action-oriented blueprint for the future of the nursing profession (IOM, 2010). One year later, in December 2011, members of the International Academy of Nursing Editors had an opportunity to participate in a telebriefing presented by members and staff of the original IOM Committee that provided some insight regarding where we now are in implementing the recommendations found in the initial report.

Specifically, the IOM committee developed four key messages that outline their recommendations: (a) nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training; (b) nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression; (c) nurses should be full partners, with physicians and other health care professionals, in redesigning health care in the United States; and (d) effective workforce planning and policy making require better data collection and an improved information infrastructure. Overall, the initial report is best understood with the broad recognition that it is primarily about the societal need to improve the health care system and provide high-quality health care to all Americans. As nurses, we need to make the link between nurses' roles and the contributions of nurses as part of the solution to addressing costs and improving the quality of and access to health care. We also are challenged to put more nurses in leadership roles across health care, educational, and policy-making settings.

To implement the recommendations of the report, the RWJF, in collaboration with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the AARP Foundation, has launched a broad Campaign for Action through the Center to Champion Nursing in America (https://championnursing.org). Among the noted accomplishments in this first year since the release of the report are the following:

  • The Center to Champion Nursing in America convened stakeholders from 48 national health care, business, and consumer organizations along with 27 national nursing organizations to develop strategies to implement the IOM recommendations. All of these groups are integrating the IOM recommendations into their own agendas and strategic plans going forward.

  • The National Council of the State Boards of Nursing and the Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers have agreed to jointly collect and analyze nursing workforce data from all states, giving us a true picture of the nation's nursing workforce.

  • At the state level, 36 coalitions have been formed and changes are being planned within some states' educational systems. In Florida and New Mexico, plans are being made to turn community colleges into 4-year degree granting institutions, and New Mexico also is developing a uniform nursing curriculum and considering ways to pool faculty statewide to address the faculty shortage. At the graduate level, more institutions are offering PhD and DNP programs online.

  • As part of the fiscal 2012 funding for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the Senate Appropriations Committee directed Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, working with the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, to develop a plan to implement the IOM recommendations and report back to the Committee in 2012.

  • The RWJF, along with other funders, will be coordinating a national research agenda to generate, synthesize, and disseminate evidence essential to implementing the IOM recommendations.

Although these examples are just a few of the impressive outcomes that have been realized since the initial Future of Nursing report was released, it was acknowledged at the editorial telebriefing that the primary focus in this first year has been on engagement and awareness. Going forward, the plan is to launch a publicly reported dashboard at https://thefutureofnursing.org to continue to report on areas of progress and to provide resources, media guidelines, and comprehensive technical assistance to the action coalitions.

Each of us can contribute to making the implementation of the IOM recommendations regarding leadership, practice, education, and interprofessional education a reality in our own professional settings. I encourage each of you to become familiar with the material presented at the aforementioned Web sites, sign up for the e-mail alerts, join an action coalition, and become a partner in this landmark endeavor for nursing and health care.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.