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The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health
An emphasis of the committee’s deliberations and this report is nurses’ role in advancing care in the community, with a particular focus on primary care. While the majority of nurses currently practice in acute care settings, and much of nursing education is directed toward those settings, the committee sees primary care and prevention as central drivers in a transformed health care system, and therefore chose to focus on opportunities for nurses across community settings. The committee believes nurses have the potential to play a vital role in improving the quality, accessibility, and value of health care, and ultimately health in the community, beyond their critical contributions to acute care. The current landscape also directed the committee’s focus on primary care; concern over an adequate supply of primary care providers has been expressed and demand for primary care is expected to grow as millions more Americans gain insurance coverage through implementation of the ACA (see Chapters 1 and 2). Additionally, many provisions of the ACA focus on improving access to primary care, offering further opportunities for nurses to play a role in transforming the health care system and improving patient care.
The committee recognizes that improved primary care is not a panacea and that acute care services will always be needed. However, the committee sees primary care in community settings as an opportunity to improve health by reaching people where they live, work, and play. Nurses serving in primary care roles could expand access to care, educate people about health risks, promote healthy lifestyles and behaviors to prevent disease, manage chronic diseases, and coordinate care.
The committee also focused on advanced practice registered nurses in its discussion of some topics, most notably scope of practice. Recognizing the importance of primary care as discussed above, the committee viewed the potential contributions of these nurses to meeting the great need for primary care services if they could practice uniformly to the full extent of their education and training.
The charge to the committee called for the formulation of a set of bold national-level recommendations—a considerable task. To develop its recommendations, the committee examined the available published evidence, drew on committee members’ expert judgment and experience, consulted experts engaged in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nursing Research Network, and commissioned the papers that appear in Appendixes F through J on the CD-ROM in the back of this report. The committee also called on foremost experts in nursing, nursing research, and health policy to provide input, perspective, and expertise during its public workshops and forums (described in Appendix C).
In addition to the peer-reviewed literature and newly commissioned research, the committee considered anecdotal evidence and self-evaluations for emerging models of care being implemented across the country. Evidence to support the