Nursing organizations develop a plan to ensure an adequate RN workforce

Nurses Activism


American Journal of Nursing - July, 2002 - Volume 102, Issue 7

Envisioning a Brighter Future

Nursing organizations develop a plan to ensure an adequate RN workforce.

By Susan Trossman, RN

Imagine a world in which nurses have satisfying and safe working environments; are influential in shaping health care policy at the local, state, and national levels; and are fully recognized as professionals who possess the knowledge and expertise that make a crucial difference in people's lives.

That's the future national nursing organizations envision for the profession, and they've created a plan to make this vision a reality over the next several years.

Nursing's Agenda for the Future focuses on strategies that will move the profession forward by quantum leaps while preventing a potentially dire nursing shortage by the year 2010. It was created with the input of more than 60 national nursing organizations.

"Nursing created this plan for its future and to ensure the future quality of health care," said Linda J. Stierle, MSN, RN, CNAA, chief executive officer of the American Nurses Association (ANA). "It focuses on addressing the root causes of the nursing shortage. It reflects the brain trust of nursing and includes strategies to address basic issues, such as recruitment, and also more complex issues, such as the economic value of nursing...."

In mid-2001, the ANA brought together representatives from 19 other nursing organizations to serve on a steering committee that would investigate how best to ensure an adequate nursing workforce. With a grant of $100,000 from the American Nurses Foundation, the ANA organized "Call to the Nursing Profession," a summit held in September, 2001, where more than 100 nursing leaders from 60 nursing organizations were asked to determine the profession's desired future and what it would take to get there.

Regarding RNs' economic value, the plan calls for a future state of nursing in which "nurses are recognized as providers of quality, cost-effective health care, compensated for their value and supported through public policy."

To achieve that state, nursing's leaders want a comprehensive database of evidence-based research that establishes links between nursing services and quality, cost-effective care. They also want to push for passage of state tax relief for nurses, as well as develop a reimbursement model that details costs associated with the services nurses provide.

In addressing the work environment, nurse leaders envision, in part, a future in which "nurses provide quality care in dynamic and satisfying environments that utilize their specialized skills and knowledge."

To achieve a satisfying workplace, the plan calls for developing infrastructures within health care organizations that promote RNs' participation in decision-making at all levels, including the unit and higher; boost nurses' participation in health policy agencies and on strategic health care boards; and develop and promote evidence-based systems that guide staffing and resource allocation.

RN leaders plan to promote Nursing's Agenda outside the nursing community at another summit to be held in early 2003. Policy-makers, consumers, various health care providers, and representatives from other groups who have a stake in the nation's future health care needs will be invited to the "Call to the Nation" meeting.

"It's our hope that the community at large will rally around our plan, because everyone's health is on the line if there aren't enough nurses," said Mary Foley, MS, RN, who was president at the time of the plan's release.

additional strategies and plans are outlined in full article at:

for the list of organizations on the steering committee and those that participated in the "Call to the Nursing Profession" summit, see

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