of their education, skills, and competencies (Hansen-Turton et al., 2008; Ritter and Hansen-Turton, 2008; Safriet, 2010). Chapter 3 examines these barriers in greater depth.
Nurses also make significant contributions to access by delivering care where people live, work, and play. Examples include school nurses, occupational health nurses, public health nurses, and those working at so-called retail clinics in busy shopping centers. Nurses also work in migrant health clinics and nurse-managed health centers, organizations known for serving the most underserved populations. Additionally, nurses are often at the front lines serving as primary providers for individuals and families affected by natural or man-made disasters, delivering care in homes and designated community shelters.
“Value in health care is expressed as the physical health and sense of well-being achieved relative to the cost” (IOM Roundtable on Evidence-Based Medicine, 2008). Compared with support for the role of nurses in improving quality and access, there is somewhat less evidence that expanding the care provided by nurses will result in cost savings to society at large while also improving outcomes and ensuring quality. However, the evidence base in favor of such a conclusion is growing. Compared with other models of prenatal care, for example, pregnant women who receive care led by certified nurse midwives are less likely to experience antenatal hospitalization, and their babies are more likely to have a shorter hospital stay (Hatem et al., 2008) (see Chapter 2 for a case study of care provided by certified nurse midwives at the Family Health and Birth Center in Washington, DC). Another study examining the impact of nurse staffing on value suggests that increasing the proportion of nursing hours provided by RNs without increasing total nursing hours was associated with 1.5 million fewer hospital days, nearly 60,000 fewer inpatient complications, and a 0.5 percent net reduction in costs (Needleman et al., 2006). Chapter 2 includes a case study of the Nurse–Family Partnership Program, in which front-line RNs make home visits to high-risk young mothers over a 2.5-year period. This program has demonstrated significant value, resulting in a net savings of $34,148 per family served. The program has also reduced pregnancy-induced hypertension by 32 percent, child abuse and neglect by 50 percent, emergency room visits by 35 percent, and language-related delays by 50 percent (AAN, 2010).
Given the crucial role of nurses with respect to the quality, accessibility, and value of care, the nursing profession itself must undergo a fundamental transformation if the committee’s vision for health care is to be realized. As this report