The healthcare system has never been under immense pressure to perform than it currently experiences. This is based on the increased population and demographic figures which have in effect signaled a significant increase in the cases presented at the healthcare facilities. Further, the increased prevalence of chronic and acute illness within these populations has forced the healthcare system to work to the expectations of the society to help met their health needs (Puetz, 2013). In order to manage these expectations on of the major revolutions that have occurred in the healthcare sector has been the expansion of the role of nurses and ultimately empowering of the nurse workforce. This was based on the idea that the numbers in the nurse workforce have remained underutilized even at a time when the physicians are struggling to manage the avalanche of cases presented at the clinical, community and public health platforms (Yoder-Wise, 2014).
The IOM Future of Nursing report is one of the benchmarks upon which the role of nurses was redefined in response to these demands. This expansion of roles was based on the idea that nurses have over the years played a key role in quality improvement initiatives in the healthcare sector and their empowerment would thus help achieve the desired levels of quality of care even amidst the apparent challenges (Yoder-Wise, 2014). There are many aspects on which nurses have been involved in quality improvement initiatives among them advocacy roles, patient and community education initiatives, the apprenticeship for new nurses, curricula development and changes, adoption of technology and evidence based practices (Puetz, 2013).
Within the advocacy roles, nurse shave been prepared and urged to take up lobbying roles to help develop and adopt legislations that can effectively improve the quality of care within measures such as demanding for allocation of resources to disadvantaged populations (Sollecito & Johnson, 2013). On the other hand, nurses have to collaborate with nurse educators to help redefine the curricula so that it can ably prepare a future workforce that reflects the predictable demands of the health care system of the future. In similar initiatives, nurses have to take up roles in patient and community education to help increase and nurture self-care and self-management techniques within the populations they serve and thus minimize the need to seek care in the healthcare facilities (Sollecito & Johnson, 2013).
Health education camps, health education blogs and broadcast media initiatives can provide such roles in education communities and individuals on the need to take up proactive roles in managing their health (Sollecito & Johnson, 2013). Further, with technology becoming a key component in the contemporary world, nurses have to continually go beyond the comfort zone and become innovators at the technological level by collaborating with software developers and vendors to help in the development of technologies and applications that improve quality delivery (Puetz, 2013).
While these initiatives by nurses all seek to provide an environment that is patient-sensitive, there have been numerous challenges that nurses have had to contend with even amidst their passion to reform the healthcare sector (Yoder-Wise, 2014). On one hand, there is the aspect of the bureaucratic nature of most management and leadership structures such that any proposals by nurses to help in quality improvement initiatives have been watered down on the basis of high-administrative burden (Sollecito & Johnson, 2013). Similarly, with the doctors and physicians perceiving the threat of the nurses in respect to their role in the reform of healthcare sector, there have been various unending conflicts of interest between the different players in the healthcare sector as each seeks to assume the lead role. These have weakened the passion and commitment that nurses have on revolutionizing the sector (Puetz, 2013).
At the advocacy role, the nurses have found it hard to negotiate the murky waters of politics especially where the affected corporate entities have continually fought to protect their commercial interest at the expense of community health. The fact that nurse-lobbying groups have remained underfunded over time means that they cannot mount serious challenges to those groups that cripple, the health of the public for commercial interests (Sollecito & Johnson, 2013). However, it is not all doom and as the nurse workforce continually increases in number, their power will immensely increase and with time they will have the financial muzzle to challenge such entities and work to the benefit of the public (Puetz, 2013).
Puetz, B. E. (2013). The future of nursing: leading change, advancing health.Journal for nurses in professional development, 29(2), 51.
Sollecito, W. A., & Johnson, J. K. (2013). Continuous quality improvement in health care (4th Ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Yoder-Wise, P. S. (2014). Leading and managing in nursing. Elsevier Health Sciences.