The nursing profession is the largest segment of the health care workforce, and massive updates such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation directly influence how they operate. The ACA passage made the essential services accessible for additional 30 million Americans, adding an enormous load on the providers and organizations. The nursing practitioners’ educational level and training problems as the demand for more workers to hire severely influenced the excellence of services they are prepared to provide. The Institute of Medicine developed the recommendations to improve the quality of nursing work through updates in education, licensing, rights, and practical obligations (Institute of Medicine, 2010). One of the references states that “nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression” (Institute of Medicine, 2010). This paper aims to develop a policy brief based on the selected recommendation by exploring its background, solutions, characteristics, and status in the health policy arena.
The Recommendation for Nurses to Achieve Higher Levels of Education and Training
The recommendation that enables nurses to achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression is a considerable step towards developing a higher quality of care. Indeed, the demand for adjusting the academic and practical strategies for practitioners became highly urgent as the ACA passage dramatically increased the load on the health care industries. The issue of insufficient skills and lack of knowledge among nurses is a high-priority challenge that requires the attention of policymakers and stakeholders on multiple levels (Lavis et al., 2009). In the current context, not only is the need for a more skilled workforce necessary, but technological development also forces the professionals to keep studying and increasing their knowledge level (Melnyk et al., 2018). Furthermore, the unequal range of education causes problems for employment and challenges in training nursing personnel. Lastly, the COVID-19 outbreak created a significant burden for healthcare industries worldwide and revealed how crucial it is for nursing professionals to be capable of obtaining new skills quickly and efficiently.
The education-related recommendation developed by the Institute of Medicine is based on the proven demand for highly-skilled professionals in the continuously changing healthcare industry. The United States government has made multiple attempts to increase the number of baccalaureate-prepared nursing workforce since the ACA passage in 2010 (Coleman et al., 2018). Indeed, actionable strategies such as diverse qualification requirements, budgeting opportunities, and new regulations for prescription rights were established to encourage continuous education and qualification increase among the practitioners.
Health care strategies and services complexity increases, and rapid technological development influence the industry to continuously change employee requirements. These circumstances enable nursing professionals to maintain their capability of obtaining new knowledge and skills throughout the practice. The difficulties of resolving the education-related challenges reveal that the barriers to increasing the academic level exist and require policy-based solutions. Indeed, from a professional nursing perspective, the problems are financial shortage, lack of time, academic support, and motivation (Shinners & Graebe, 2020). From the health systems’ end, organizations face difficulties promoting academic progression because of insufficient funding for tuition reimbursement and bonuses (Coleman et al., 2018). The recommendation’s background complies with the current context of the issue, where massive health care problems force practitioners to adjust their skills and knowledge.
Today the recommendation to continuously increase the educational level of nursing practitioners through academic development and training is in the highest demand ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The consequences faced by the organizations where most practitioners are not baccalaureate-prepared are worsened patient outcomes and subsequent issues such as increased mortality and complications. The costs of not addressing the Institute of Medicine recommendations regarding the educational level are high both for nurses and their workplaces (Melnyk et al., 2018). The modern labor conditions might prevent practitioners from building successful careers or participating in grant programs for them. Organizations can face a workforce shortage in adapting to novel regulations and treatment technologies. Furthermore, policies related to the specific qualifications for the workforce might create disparities among colleagues and provoke conflicts.
Modern implementation considerations address the characteristics of the recommendation, such as a requirement for minimum practical hours completion. Moreover, practitioners must be involved in health care policymaking and expand their activities to social work and novel patient-centered practices implementation (Coleman et al., 2018). The lack of a higher education level can become a significant obstacle for professionals who have specific goals to achieve in their work sector. If the requirements for practitioners’ academic and training experiences are established as the policies, an extreme workforce shortage can occur. Furthermore, providing equal opportunities for diverse populations is crucial in the modern world and might cause additional obstacles for organizations and professionals. Lastly, the workforce shortage became a significant issue during the pandemic, and the demand to resume the high educational standards occurred to increase the number of nurses quickly.
The Impact of the Recommendation from the Stakeholders’ Perspective
The recommendation significantly impacts all the stakeholders because its outcomes affect the health care industry nationwide and internationally. Indeed, patients raised their expectations regarding the practitioners’ education level, nurses were able to revise their academic and career goals, and health care organizations had to develop appropriate employment requirements and conditions (Coleman et al., 2018). The research for evidence about the issue can help identify how continuing education influenced the stakeholders. Patients who receive care are paid for having benchmarks of acceptable quality. Consequently, baccalaureate-prepared professionals will be perceived as more reliable, while others’ authority will be decreased regardless of their experience (Melnyk et al., 2018). Academic nursing education helps practitioners develop critical thinking and use a broader scope of knowledge in their decision-making. Thus, a baccalaureate-prepared NP is preferable from a patient’s perspective, and they might avoid receiving care from others. However, it is critical to consider the current pandemic’s circumstances in exploring the question from the client’s point of view because now they would instead get any help and treatment regardless of the educational level of a clinical worker.
The COVID-19 outbreak forced the health care industry to mobilize all the resources possible, and lowering the educational and experience benchmark became the consequence of the issue. Furthermore, as the main stakeholders, the current updates affected nursing practitioners the most. While the recommendation for continuing education and training enabled them to set relevant goals, the sudden turnaround made them push to the practical aspects of the work (Shinners & Graebe, 2020). From the nursing professionals’ perspective, the policies create a foundation for career planning and financial priorities selection.
Health care systems and organizations’ perspective on the policy is tied to the employment aspects, costs efficiency, and patient outcomes. Evidently, the higher level of education and experience their nursing practitioners have, the better the treatment will be. However, supporting the training is expensive, and the diverse degrees of graduation may cause inequality among the employees (Shinners & Graebe, 2020). Health care organizations have additional responsibilities such as wages and insurance for their employees, and the recommendation for experience and knowledge enhancement can provoke challenging conditions to occur at inappropriate times.
Current solutions require the research evidence to be reviewed through systematic and transparent methods of selection and identification. Indeed, the strategies to influence the educational level among practitioners are observational studies of the influence of continuing training and active interventions such as policymaking. Conversations with professionals and meta-analysis of their experiences’ descriptions is a valuable methodology for issues identification. Research about the current solutions’ effectiveness is necessary for revealing if the recommendations improved health care.
The current strategies to address the recommendation for continuing education and training can be viewed through local applicability and equity considerations. Indeed, The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) suggests that the education system must mainly rely on the state’s boards and requirements to provide them with an adequate workforce (Thomas et al., 2020). Licensing is the part of obtaining the profession where the degree is critical, and the eligibility is based on different factors. For instance, Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC) mentions that in Arizona, Louisiana, and Missouri, frequent re-qualification is essential for license receiving, and educational systems in these states are in higher demand (Thomas et al., 2020). Consequently, the recommendation for addressing professionalism is locally applicable to these states. In contrast, cities where the nursing workforce shortage is identified, might have inefficient solutions that require revision. Equity considerations can be calculated by determining the educational systems’ costs and their positive outcomes for practitioners and organizations where they are employed (Melnyk et al., 2018). The current solutions benefit if a clinic has financial support programs for their nursing practitioners’ training and improves patient outcomes.
Current Status in The Health Policy Arena
The recommendation to improve the quality of nursing education is crucial for policymakers and is broadly discussed today due to the pandemic. The demand for mobilizing all the workforce enabled the health care providers to lower the standards, and continuous learning is switched to obtaining the most practical knowledge possible to effectively work in an emergency (Shinners & Graebe, 2020). The policy is advocated by the practitioners and the boards of professionals because they learned that obtaining new skills and using them in the clinical setting is vital for their career development.
The quality of nursing is an urgent issue to be addressed because the professionals directly influence patient outcomes. Practitioners’ decision-making must be evidence-based and critically thought, and a higher education degree combined with clinical experience is the foundation for such capability. One of the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations to improve the quality of nursing work is to update the education systems to encourage the nurses to keep learning and their organizations to support their development. The policy issue is the lack of a systematized approach to improving studying programs for practitioners, insufficient funds for their clinics, and the inability of local health care administrators to establish workable regulations.
The demand for highly-skilled professionals in the continuously changing health care industry has been being researched since the ACA passage in 2010, and today it is even more urgent due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Current characteristics show that the issue is being resumed because of the extreme nursing workforce shortage. The quality of nursing practice influences the stakeholders: practitioners rely on the education system’s regulations while setting career goals, organizations consider them in employment, and patients build their expectations about care providers.
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Shinners, J., & Graebe, J. (2020). Continuing education is a core component of nursing professional development. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 51(1), 6-8. Web.
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