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IOM, RWJF to explore role of nurses in reforming healthcare (DS)

By Joe Carlson
Posted: July 14, 2009 – 5:59 am EDT

Proclaiming that healthcare’s largest single workforce ought to have a voice in the reform debate, the Institute of Medicine is teaming with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to prepare a major report on ways that nurses can help transform healthcare, called the Initiative on the Future of Nursing.

The report, due out in the fall of 2010, will show how nurses can improve care quality, lower costs and improve access. Through their hands-on experience with patients, nurses are positioned to offer advice on areas such as chronic disease management, early screening and the benefits of an expanded nursing workforce, according to a news release.

The report will also detail some of the hurdles the profession must overcome in order to build the workforce that will be needed after passage of reform legislation. Despite the recent slowdown in the hiring of new nurses in hospitals, industry leaders say the nursing shortage will resurface after the recession ends because it is driven by the high average ages of nurses and the slow rate of entry into nursing schools.

The new study committee will be chaired by Donna Shalala, who was HHS secretary in the Clinton administration and is currently president of the University of Miami