The Future of Nursing

The Future of Nursing




The Future of Nursing

The healthcare sector has been coming under increased pressure for the past two decades. The steady growth in the global population and the rise in cases of lifestyle diseases mean that an increasing number of people are in need of medical attention every year. Accordingly, the entire healthcare sector is going through certain changes that should improve the quality of care that people receive. Improvements in the sector should also help decrease the incidence and prevalence of lethal lifestyle health complications such as diabetes and heart disease. Nursing is one of the areas in healthcare that faces drastic changes in its future. Some of these changes will improve the working conditions for nurses, while others will make it possible to take better care for patients. Through concepts such as continuity of care, accountable care organizations, medical homes and nurse-managed health clinics, the practice of nursing is going to change drastically in the future, helping both nurses and patients.

Some of the changes that are taking place in the practice of nursing are going to change the manner in which nurses deal with patients. One such change regards the concept of continuity of care. According to Haggerty et al (2003), continuity of care refers to a special relationship between patients and medical experts that go beyond the specific periods when the former was ill and in need of treatment. This will ensure that all practitioners use a consistent approach even as the patient transfers from one professional to another. Another aspect of continuity of care involves discharge planning that helps maintain consistency in care even after the hospital discharges a patient. According to Goulette (2009), the future implementation of the concept will eliminate the treatment gaps that occur as patients transfer from hospitals to self-care or to other institutions. Through private initiatives by persons such as Joanna Smith, the concept of continuity of care is becoming an increasingly popular feature in models of patient management.

The Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing (2011) identifies Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and medical homes as other initiatives that are likely to shape the future of nursing. ACO refers to a group of care providers that work together when caring for their Medicare patients. The aim of working within a group is to ensure that the patient receives the care they need in the right time and with reduced errors. Normally, the ACOs provide the care at a fixed reimbursement rate. The introduction of the model has made it easier and more affordable for people with chronic diseases and the aged to receive medical attention (Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing, 2011). Conversely, medical homes refer to practices that provide extensive care, encourage close relationships between practitioners and their patients and consistently improve the quality of care. The structure of medical homes has changed recently to include staff nurses who provide chronic care for some patients along with other critical services. As the medical home concept expands, the healthcare system will find it increasingly easier to deal with patients who suffer from chronic diseases and are in need of intensive care (Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing, 2011).

Lastly, the increase in number of nursing-managed health clinics (NMHC) is continuing to change the health sector by helping poor people gain access to medical care. NMHCs are special medical centers that are managed by nurses, though they still employ physicians, social workers and other experts (Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing, 2011). Many of the centers are attached to nursing schools and nonprofit organizations and they focus their care on people without insurance and living in poor neighborhoods. Through their care, NMHCs have managed to significantly reduce the need for their patients to visit emergency departments and their continued growth is likely to help the American healthcare sector become more efficient in the future (Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing, 2011).

Changes involving the growth of medical homes, NMHCs and ACOs along with the introduction of continuity in care are likely to transform the way nurses contribute to the national healthcare system. These changes will work for the benefit of all stakeholders in the system as nurses see their responsibilities increase while patients receive the quality of care that they need. Accordingly, these changes will brighten the future of nursing and the ailing American healthcare sector.



Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing (2011). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press.

Goulette, C. (2009). Continuum of care. Retrieved from

Haggerty, J. L., Reid, R. J., Freeman, G. K., Starfield, B. H., Adair, C. E. & McKendry, R. (2003). Continuity of care: A multidisciplinary review. BMJ 327(7425), pp. 1219-1221.


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