The American health care system is evolving; care is becoming more focused on wellness, disease prevention, health promotion, and chronic illness management. In addition, health care reform will provide many people with access to health care that they did not have previously. As a result, there will be a continuing increase in the demand for everyday care through community health centers; professional home health care services; long-term care facilities; primary care providers’ offices; and non-emergency settings that are close to home. In these settings, nurses are essential to ensuring access to needed care, and their knowledge and skills directly affect the quality of care that patients receive.   

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing, at the IOM, seeks to build a blueprint for the future of nursing as part of larger efforts to reform the health care system. The Initiative held three public forums to explore challenges and opportunities in nursing. The second forum, which took place December 3, 2009, examined care in the community, focusing on community health, public health, primary care, and long-term care. Presenters described examples of best practices in the community that shed light on what is needed to meet the country’s changing health needs. The perspectives and ideas presented at this forum have informed a final report on the future of nursing, released October 2010.