Study Monitors Progress of Nursing Reforms in Healthcare Facilities

A new study looks at how well healthcare organizations are doing when it comes to implementing a set of nursing reforms outlined by a 2010 Institute of Medicine report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.  Patricia Pittman, PhD, an associate professor of health policy at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, and her colleagues surveyed nursing leaders in 2011 and again the summer of 2013. They asked questions to assess steps to implement key IOM recommendations, including one that called for nurses to have more educational training—such as a Bachelor of Science (BSN) degree in nursing. The 2010 IOM report warned that the nurses will need to be highly educated in order to meet the demands of a rapidly changing health care environment.

Compared to the survey Pittman and colleagues did in 2011, this study found that hospitals and other healthcare organizations had made the most strides in three areas: increasing the number of employed RNs with at least a bachelor’s degree; expanding the proportion of institutions with nurse residency programs; and offering opportunities for continuing education for nurses.

“Our findings suggest that healthcare organizations are changing and working to put in place key nursing reforms that the IOM highlighted in its landmark report,” says Pittman. “Moving forward, it will be critical to continue to study these nursing reforms to make sure that the healthcare system is prepared for an aging population and other challenges.”

The study, “The Future of Nursing: Monitoring the Progress of Recommended Change in Hospitals, Nurse-Led Clinics, and Home Health and Hospice Agencies,” appeared online January 9 in The Journal of Nursing Administration. The study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Read more about Dr. Pittman’s research on nursing reforms.