The RN’s Role in Healthcare Reform
Healthcare Reform has been and still is a highly debated controversial political issue in this country. It has been a hot topic of past presidential campaigns, with many proposed solutions, none of which were enacted upon by Congress. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed in 2010. This law or Obamacare, as it is commonly called, was designed to cover the 48 million Americans, including about 1 million in New Jersey who did not have health insurance. It is envisioned to provide seamless, affordable, quality care that is accessible to all. Great emphasis will be placed on transforming our current “sick care” hospital system into a community “health care” system of prevention and health promotion. This paper discusses the evolving and future roles of nurses under the new system. It also examines the proposals of a joint committee made up of members of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), as an initiative to help nurses in their new leadership roles to a healthier nation.
According to the Committee’s report, under the new system nurses will be tasked to (i) practice to the full extent of their education and training; (ii) achieve higher levels of education and training; (iii) be full partners with doctors and other health care professionals in redesigning health care in the United States; and (iv) effectively plan workforce policy that require better data collection and the use of information infrastructure (The National Academies Press, pg 85-255). To meet these goals, the ACA law pledges to support nursing education in three ways. First they plan to advance Practice Nurses Scholarship and Loan Repayment for nurses working in primary care. The budget for this scholarship will be increased by $1.5 billion over five years. This program covers tuition, some fees, and costs for students enrolled in a graduate nursing degree program; (ii) RNs are eligible for scholarship that cover tuition, fees, books and a monthly stipend; and (iii) provisions are made for a number of grant programs to improve, expand and promote training and also to promote career advancement, provide for scholarships and loan repayments. (The Affordable Care Act, Title V, Subtitle D – Health Care Workforce)
Additionally, nurses will need to develop leadership skills in order to work in partnership with doctors and other health care professionals and to identify and develop evidence-based improvements to care. Nurses should be able to translate new research findings into nursing education and develop new practices and policies. In care environments, nurses should be able to identify areas of waste, devise and implement a plan for improvement, assess improvements and establish goals. As leaders, nurses should also be strong patient advocates, get involved in decision-making and improve the delivery of care. To achieve this, the IOM recommends leadership programs for nurses, mentorship and...