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IOM Future of Nursing Update: RACs Gaining Momentum; Need Perioperative Voices

Publish Date: 5/25/2011

The landmark recommendations in the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) recently released Future of Nursing report continue to energize and challenge nursing and healthcare leaders across the nation. One direct result of the report has been the formation of state Regional Action Coalitions (RACs) to implement the recommendations in the IOM report at the local, state and regional level. Five pilot states initiated RACs in October 2010, and another 10 states were announced in February 2011.

RACs are charged with convening nurses and non-nurses across a state to implement the four key recommendations in the IOM report: (1) nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training; (2) nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression; (3) nurses should be full partners with physicians and other health professionals in redesigning health care in the United States; and (4) effective workforce planning and policy making require better data collection and an improved information infrastructure.

In order to be successful in achieving the report’s recommendations, RACs need to bring together diverse groups of stakeholders, such as provider and payer groups, employers, consumer groups, and educators. Although many RACs are still in the early formation phase, some are beginning to log important successes for nursing, especially in the area of education. For example, New York’s RAC recently secured funding for a nurse educator scholarship fund for nurses committed to nursing education pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree. This scholarship responds directly to the critical need for nursing faculty identified in the IOM report.

New Jersey’s RAC is also working to transform nursing education and reduce the nurse faculty shortage by providing support to New Jersey-based nursing education programs and by creating a comprehensive scholarship program to support the development of future nurse faculty. AORN believes activities such as the scholarship and support programs instituted by the New York and New Jersey RACs are early examples of the many important nurse-driven advancements in healthcare that will result from the IOM report.

As perioperative nursing experts, AORN members are uniquely poised to offer specific implementation support for these new RACs. It is imperative that perioperative nurses have a voice in shaping the future of healthcare. Many RACs are just beginning to form steering committees and formulate concrete objectives. Now is the time to get involved and offer your nursing expertise to your state RAC. Contact AORN’s Government Affairs manager, Amy Hader, for additional ways to become involved in nurse advocacy.

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