diffusion of a variety of promising innovative models informed the committee’s deliberations and recommendations. Many of these innovations are highlighted as case studies throughout the report, and others are discussed in the appendixes. These case studies offer real-life examples of successful innovations that were developed by nurses or feature nurses in a leadership role, and are meant to complement the peer-reviewed evidence presented in the text. The committee believes these case studies contribute to the evidence base on how nurses can serve in reconceptualized roles to directly affect the quality, accessibility, and value of care. Cumulatively, the case studies and nurse profiles demonstrate what is possible and what the future of nursing could look like under ideal circumstances in which nurses would be highly educated and well prepared by an education system that would promote seamless academic progression, in which nurses would be practicing to the full extent of their education and training, and in which they would be acting as full partners in efforts to redesign the health care system.
The committee drew on a wealth of sources of evidence to support its recommendations. The recommendations presented are based on the best evidence available. There is a need, however, to continue building the evidence base in a variety of areas. The committee identified several research priorities to build upon its recommendations. For example, data are lacking on the work of nurses and the nursing workforce in general, primarily because of a dearth of large and well-designed studies explicitly exploring these issues. Accordingly, the committee calls for research in a number of areas that would yield evidence related to the future of nursing to address some of the shortcomings in the data it encountered. Boxes 7-1 through 7-3 list research questions that are directly connected to the recommendations and the discussion in Chapters 3 through 5. The committee believes that answers to these research questions are needed to help advance the profession.
The current state of the U.S. economy and its effects on federal, state, and local budgets pose significant challenges to transforming the health care system. These fiscal challenges also will heavily influence the implementation of the committee’s recommendations. While providing cost estimates for each recommendation was beyond the scope of this study, the committee does not deny that there will be costs—in some cases sizable—associated with implementing its recommendations. These costs must be carefully weighed against the potential for long-term benefit. Expanding the roles and capacity of the nursing profession will require significant up-front financial resources, but this investment, in the committee’s view, will help secure a strong foundation for a future health care system that can provide high-quality, accessible, patient-centered care. Based on its expert opinion and the available evidence, the committee believes that, despite the fiscal challenges, implementation of its recommendations is necessary