At a time when the nation’s health care landscape was being transformed and increasing evidence pointed to the need for more highly educated nurses, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a landmark report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Issued in 2010, the report states:
"Major changes in the U.S. health care system and practice environment will require equally profound changes in the education of nurses. An improved education system is necessary to ensure that the current and future generations of nurses can deliver safe, quality, patientcentered care across all settings, especially in such areas as primary care and community and public health."
An improved education system must also ensure that the nursing workforce reflects the diversity of the populations it serves.
The Future of Nursing report set an ambitious goal: 80% of practicing RNs should be prepared with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or more advanced degree by 2020. It also cited evidence to support the call for more highly educated nurses,1, 2 and subsequent studies have linked higher nurse education to improved patient outcomes.3-7 The report also provided a blueprint for action to advance nursing education and reframe the conversation around this goal.
The transformation has begun, and the early work to establish a new education infrastructure is described in this article. We also review the activities taking place to advance this complex transformation, including examples of initial progress, challenges, and successes, and a call to action seeking nurses’ assistance in the process.