Institue of Medicine Report on Nursing and Healthcare Leadership Highlighted in New York Times Article

Pauline Chen, MD, a contributor to the New York Times Well blog, has published an article in yesterday’s New York Times highlighting a recent report from the Institute of Medicine that promotes the idea that nurses should be included in the current debate of healthcare reform as leaders in the movement towards healthcare reform.  I have long thought, even before I contemplated becoming a nurse myself, that the role of nurses in hospital leadership (and leadership in healthcare in general) was not where it should be.  After all, when the rubber meets the road, who is at the bedside dealing with the patient 24/7?

That said, the article also identifies the need for a commensurate increase in the academic training of nurses.  I am an associate degree nurse, myself, though it was obtained after having a master’s degree in biochemistry and several years of experience as a paramedic.  The norm should be many more bachelor’s prepared nurses.  But pursuing this goal requires a massive influx of capital into the nursing education system to increase the number of spots available in the bachelor degree nursing programs and while the goal of increasing the percentage of BSN graduates to 80% of the workforce, I don’t see a credible funding mechanism at the moment.

Predictably, the American Medical Association comes out swinging, but appears to aim only at nurse practitioners in a primary care model and miss the two other main points of the IOM report – namely that educational standards should be increased AND that leadership in national healthcare policy should have an effective voice for nurses in a truly collaborative model.  I applaude Dr. Chen for recognizing these issues in her article yesterday.


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