By Sheila Burke, RN, MPA, FAAN

When I accepted the honor of chairing the Strategic Advisory Committee for the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, I was motivated by the potential embodied in the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) landmark report on nursing last year.  With my experience in health policy and as a former staff nurse, I saw how The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health crystallized issues that had long confronted the nursing profession and our health care system. I believed that its release would spark the conversations that are essential to much needed change.

And those conversations are taking place—and fueling impressive work and results. Since the Institute report was released in October 2010, campaign-designated Action Coalitions have formed in 36 states and more than 70 national organizations have begun acting on specific report recommendations.

Others are reacting, in ways that further validate the report. This year, for the first time, the Leapfrog Group included on its annual hospital survey whether a facility had earned Magnet status as an indicator of adequate and competent nursing staff service and nursing leadership at all levels. The Leapfrog Group cites no other external credentialing or similar entity in the publicly released survey.

Another telling example of the report’s credibility and power is a recent issue of the North Carolina Medical Journal. The issue examined the future of nursing there, with experts from across the state reiterating the importance of the IOM recommendations. This is not insignificant when a medical journal devotes its pages to the future of nursing.

The momentum will help us address challenges on local and national levels. One key concern is the proposed rule that would implement a section of the health reform law relating to Medicare accountable care organizations. As the American Nursing Association noted in comments submitted on the proposal, the regulatory language describing these organizations makes little mention of nurses, ignoring their skills and contributions in care coordination.

Like so many of the groups propelling the Campaign for Action, the Strategic Advisory Committee represents diverse sectors. We all take seriously our charge to help position the campaign, engage national stakeholders and secure this network of stakeholder coalitions in states. We are incredibly encouraged by the widespread enthusiasm and activity to date, and looking forward, we are focused on developing the tools, resources and evidence needed to achieve implementation across the recommendations.

The Campaign will be documenting best practices and success stories and fostering a community of action for coalitions and other stakeholders across the country. It will build on the increasing attention throughout health care to interdisciplinary teams and the value of interdisciplinary collaboration, which highlight the strong role that nurses should inherently play. Finally, the campaign will continue to inform strategies to reach policy-makers, business and health care leaders, educators and others.

The issues confronting the nursing profession cannot be considered in isolation from other health care challenges. The Campaign for Action seeks active participation from across the private and public sector to ensure that the IOM recommendations are translated into movement that results in improved patient-centered care. By becoming involved, leaders and groups around the country are helping to transform health care for all Americans by applying the knowledge, training and experience that nursing has to offer.

Please join us in this historic campaign.

Read a profile of Sheila Burke on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation website.