The link between nurses' educational preparation and patient outcomes has been demonstrated in numerous studies. Assorted professional organizations and scholarly reports have made this call before, so is there anything that will make this occasion different? A lot of organizations already offer tuition reimbursement for associate degree nurses to obtain baccalaureates, and yet we still hover at around 50%. It remains to be seen what strategies the committee will eventually recommend, but the report does says that public and private organizations should provide resources to help nurses with associate degrees pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing within five years of graduation and to help nursing schools ensure that at least 10% of their baccalaureate graduates enter a master's or doctoral program within five years.
Along the same topic, the report acknowledges the difficulty new nurses have in transitioning from education to practice and its recommendation that the profession institute residency training will shine a lot more attention on this important issue. Residency programs help new nurses bridge the gap from education to practice and, when done correctly, help set them on the course for lifelong learning.
The most controversial side of the report so far has been the call for nurses to practice to the full scope of their practice. The committee acknowledges that to meet the increasing demands for healthcare at a time of significant demographic and health system changes in this country, we need to tap the capabilities of advanced practice registered nurses (APRN).
It is this role of APRNs in primary care that is most controversial and received a swift response from the American Medical Association.
"With a shortage of both physicians and nurses and millions more insured Americans, healthcare professionals will need to continue working together to meet the surge in demand for healthcare," said Rebecca J. Patchin, MD, board member of the AMA. "A physician-led team approach to care—with each member of the team playing the role they are educated and trained to play—helps ensure patients get high-quality care and value for their healthcare spending.