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The Institute of Medicine’s “Future of Nursing” Report: Recommendations, Part II

The first and second articles in this three-part series explained the key messages and the first four of eight recommendations in the IOM “Future of Nursing” report. Many of the nurses who come to the University of Saint Mary to earn their RN-Bachelor of Science in Nursing or Master of Science in Nursing online want more information on how the findings of the IOM report will affect their career now and in the future. This series is intended to summarize and clarify the major points of the report.

In this article, we will go over the last four recommendations in the Institute of Medicine’s report “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” released in 2010. These recommendations function as a blueprint for the ongoing transformation of the nursing profession. Each recommendation spells out specific actions that can be taken by various government agencies, professional organizations, professional associations, and other groups to support the advancement of nursing practice in the 21st century.

Recommendation No. 5:

Double the number of nurses with a doctorate by 2020.

The lack of nursing faculty has long been an area of concern. In 2014, nursing schools in the U.S. turned away almost 70,000 qualified applicants from bachelor’s and graduate nursing degree programs in large part because of a shortage of faculty.1 Encouraging more nurses to advance their degrees adds to the supply of instructors as well as researchers who are integral to helping the profession evolve.

To meet this goal, the IOM “Future of Nursing” report suggested monitoring nursing school graduates to ensure that at least 10 percent of BSN graduates undertake a master’s or doctoral degree program within five years of their graduation date. In addition, expanding private and public funding for accelerated graduate degree programs in nursing could support more nurses’ ability to afford higher levels of education. It would also promote more diversity among nurse faculty members and researchers.

The IOM report also suggested making salaries and benefits packages for academic and clinical nurse faculty competitive with other nursing specialties. Doing so could encourage more nurses to pursue higher degrees for positions in research and nurse education.

Recommendation No. 6:

Ensure that nurses engage in lifelong learning.

Health care moves so quickly that nurses are already constantly learning new techniques, new technologies, new equipment, and new methods. An organizational culture that supports lifelong learning with support and dedicated resources can help nurses make an even greater impact on patient care. In addition, curiosity and a self-starter approach to learning can add to nurses’ personal and professional fulfillment.

To encourage nurses to pursue additional knowledge and skills throughout the course of their careers, the IOM report suggested collaborating with health care organizations on nursing school curricula to ensure that coursework aligns with present and future population health needs, Health care organizations offering continuing education should also evaluate and update their own programs regularly.

Recommendation No. 7:

Prepare and enable nurses to lead change to advance health.

Nurses have already taken on leadership positions for some time, and the trend should be encouraged and broadened. The IOM “Future of Nursing” report encourages public, private, and government health care decision makers to actively work toward promoting more nurses for leadership positions. Other suggested steps included the development of leadership programs and training by nursing associations and an increased nurse presence on boards, executive teams, and other leadership bodies.

Recommendation No. 8:

Build an infrastructure for the collection and analysis of interprofessional health care workforce data.

One of the four key messages of the IOM report expressed the need for an organized method of collecting detailed data on health care professionals — their numbers, where they are employed, their roles, and their responsibilities. Such information, once analyzed, would give insights into gaps and overlaps in nursing and other health care services across the country. In this recommendation, the IOM report suggested various ways government agencies could go about this initiative, including:

  • Developing and distributing a standardized set of data that can be used to assess health care workforce needs by demographics, numbers, skill mix, and geographic distribution.
  • Measuring and monitoring the information on nurses resulting from the data mentioned above to forecast future nursing workforce requirements.
  • The Department of Labor, educators, and employers should collaborate to pinpoint regional health care workforce gaps and create plans for increasing the supply of health care professionals, including nurses, who can fill them.

The IOM “Future of Nursing” report may seem intimidating, but in fact it simply helps organize the task of preparing for tomorrow’s health care needs. By specifying areas in need of action and outlining specific steps to be taken, it provides nurses with an understanding of the direction of nursing and health care, and how it will affect them.

Take the first step toward ensuring that you are prepared for the future of nursing. The online RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing degrees at the University of Saint Mary are designed to match the competencies and goals recommended by the Institute of Medicine. With a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing from the University of Saint Mary, you will develop the skills you need to take advantage of the opportunities in today’s health care environment — as well as tomorrow’s.

1, 2 Nursing Faculty Shortage Fact Sheet, American Association of Colleges of Nursing,