In 2010 the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) was signed into law and initiated a transformation in United States health care. Every aspect of health care, including health care professions, have begun to evolve as a result of the laws passed in 2010. The nursing profession is one of the largest divisions in the healthcare workforce and requires large transformations in order to meet the goals that the United States has set forth. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) conducted a report in 2010 which laid out recommendations for health care professions in order to make the goals attainable.
Transforming education, transforming practice, and transforming leadership are three areas that greatly impact the nursing profession (IOM, 2010). An increase in changes in health care require an increase in changes in education in nursing. The IOM discusses several areas that nursing education needs to improve, however, increasing the number of baccalaureate-level nurses (BSN) and changing the focus of study to community and public health care, or primary care, is one of the main goals set forth by the IOM (IOM, 2010, p. 164).
The Tri-Council of nursing, made up of the American Nurses Association (ANA), American Nursing Organization of Nursing Executives, National League of Nursing (NLN) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), released a statement calling for 80% of the nursing profession to have their BSN by 2020 (IOM, 2010, p. 171-172). The IOM recommends elevating educational standards by removing the diploma level nursing programs and instead using the funding to focus more on BSN programs.
Another way to increase educational standards is to focus more on actual core skills than written abilities. They discussed how employers need to be more involved in the education of their staff and offer more support for education as well. Another area the report touched on was smoother transitions from college-college and increasing the online programs available (IOM, 2010, p. 172). If these goals are reached than there should be no reason that 80% of nurses are not educated to at least BSN level by 2020 (IOM, 2010).
Transforming practice makes up a significant part of the IOM report and has a large impact on evolving the United States health care system. The IOM discusses how shifting away from acute settings and specialty care is essential in providing health promotion and prevention. As nurses it is important to begin in the community with primary care and focus on teaching and early detection (Cresaia & Friberg, 2010). Nursing is a versatile profession which allows for nurses to be seen in all aspect of health care (Russell, 2012).
Nurse Practitioners make up a quarter of primary care providers in the United States in 2010 and the number continues to increase as the number of medical students decreases (IOM, 2010, p. 88). When nursing fosters collaboration it has been shown to increase the quality of care and safety and decrease the amount of errors. Nurses are now able to join multidisciplinary teams to help manage patients care and bring the patient-centered care or holistic approach to the table. These changes in the role of the nursing profession help reach the goals set forth by the IOM regarding primary care (IOM, 2010).
As education standards increases, the respect that nurses receive as professionals increases as well. In order to provide excellent patient-centered care nurses need to work with a diverse range of health professionals as a team (Russell, 2012). Nursing leadership is another important topic discussed in the IOM report from 2010. Nursing leaders are responsible to conduct research in order to stay up to date on the best techniques and evidence-based practice as well as latest and greatest equipment for their patients.
These nursing leaders help to mold new policies and procedures that in turn help the government reform the United States health care according to the ACA (IOM, 2010). The IOM report discusses a new type of leadership in healthcare referred to as full partners. This type of leadership puts all health care professionals at the same level. It focuses on transforming team members into working together and collaborating as leaders and not just relying on a main leader.
It is essential to become full partners with all aspects of the health care team in order to lead the future of healthcare (IOM, 2010, p. 225). Many times nurses become more familiar with the patients than physicians and even entry-level nurses are leaders when it comes to advocating for their patients. This is another reason that BSN level nursing is imperative. BSN level nurses focus their studies on research and leadership and in return more prepared to help reach the goals set forth by the IOM (Russell, 2012). Nurses play an essential role in transforming the United State health care system.
The IOM has set forth several recommendations that will help all aspects of health care professions to play a productive role in this transformation. The main goals set for nurses are increasing education and education standards, shifting practice away from acute care to primary care, and improving leadership to allow for more collaboration (IOM, 2010). Once these goals have been reached we will see increases in quality of care, safety in care, and a decrease in errors. These goals help form nursing into the respected profession it has always been and in turn increases patient care standards (IOM, 2010).