Nurses should be full partners, with physicians and other health care professionals, in redesigning health care in the United States.
Efforts to cultivate and promote leaders within the nursing profession—from the front lines of care to the boardroom—will prepare nurses with the skills needed to help improve health care and advance their profession. As leaders, nurses must act as full partners in redesign efforts, be accountable for their own contributions to delivering high-quality care, and work collaboratively with leaders from other health professions.
Being a full partner involves taking responsibility for identifying problems and areas of system waste, devising and implementing improvement plans, tracking improvement over time, and making necessary adjustments to realize established goals. In the health policy arena, nurses should participate in, and sometimes lead, decision making and be engaged in health care reform-related implementation efforts. Nurses also should serve actively on advisory boards on which policy decisions are made to advance health systems and improve patient care.
In order to ensure that nurses are ready to assume leadership roles, nursing education programs need to embed leadership-related competencies throughout. In addition, leadership development and mentoring programs need to be made available for nurses at all levels, and a culture that promotes and values leadership needs to be fostered. All nurses must take responsibility for their personal and professional growth by developing leadership competencies and exercising these competencies across all care settings.
Effective workforce planning and policy making require better data collection and an improved
Planning for fundamental, wide-ranging changes in the education and deployment of the nursing workforce will require comprehensive data on the numbers and types of health professionals— including nurses—currently available and required to meet future needs. Once an improved infrastructure for collecting and analyzing workforce data is in place, systematic assessment and projection of workforce requirements by role, skill mix, region, and demographics will be needed to inform changes in nursing practice and education.
The 2010 Affordable Care Act mandates the creation of both a National Health Care Workforce Commission to help gauge the demand for health care workers and a National Center for Workforce Analysis to support workforce data collection and analysis. These programs should place a priority on systematic monitoring of the supply of health care workers across professions, review of the data and methods needed to develop accurate predictions of workforce needs, and coordination of the collection of data on the health care workforce at the state and regional levels. All data collected must be timely and publicly accessible.