and knowledge while improving patient care and decreasing costs; and patients receive better care when nurses and other health professionals work together effectively. The last broad-based study of the nursing profession published by the IOM was Nursing and Nursing Education: Public Policies and Private Actions (IOM, 1983). More recently, the IOM published Keeping Patients Safe: Transforming the Work Environment of Nurses (IOM, 2004). This report describes strategies for improving nurses’ work environments and responding to the overwhelming demands they often face, with the ultimate goal of improving the safety and quality of care.
As the committee was conducting this study, a number of additional reports about nursing and nursing education, in particular, were released. Four months prior to the launch of the study, Prime Minister Gordon Brown charged a commission in England to examine the future of nursing and midwifery. The commission’s report, Front Line Care: The Future of Nursing and Midwifery in England (Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery in England, 2010) states that nurses and midwives have great potential to influence health and must renew their pledge to society to deliver high-quality, compassionate care, and that they must be well supported to do so. A report released by the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, Who Will Provide Primary Care and How Will They Be Trained? (Cronenwett and Dzau, 2010), likewise suggests that nurses are well positioned to improve health and recommends that any barriers preventing nurse practitioners from serving as primary care providers or leading models of primary care delivery be removed.
Several reports emphasize that continuing education is crucial if nurses, and other health professionals, are to deliver high-quality and safe care throughout their careers. They include Continuing Education in the Health Professions: Improving Healthcare Through Lifelong Learning (Hager et al., 2008), another report from the Macy Foundation; the IOM’s Redesigning Continuing Education in the Health Professions (IOM, 2009); and Lifelong Learning in Medicine and Nursing (AACN and AAMC, 2010), which was cosponsored by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Association of American Medical Colleges. A report specifically addressing the initial education of nurses, published by Dr. Patricia Benner and her team at the Carnegie Foundation, Educating Nurses: A Call for Radical Transformation (Benner et al., 2009), calls for a more highly educated nursing workforce, recommending that all entry-level registered nurses (RNs) be prepared at the baccalaureate level and that all RNs earn at least a master’s degree within 10 years of initial licensure.
To increase the amount, relevance, and accessibility of research available to the committee, RWJF launched a parallel project called the Nursing Research Network (NRN) that generated, synthesized, and disseminated a broad range of