Future of Nursing

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VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF NURSING

Editorial
Arlene j. Lowenstein, PhD, RN Professor Emeritus, Graduate Program in Nursing, MGI Institute for Health Professions Boston, MA.

n many ways this is a time of chaos within health care systems around the world. The economic downturn in the global society has impacted on health care. In many places services have been cut and access to services reduced. In addition, new diseases such as AIDS, SARS and the threat of bio-terrorism have entered our lives. New technologies and treatments occur rapidly, but are often expensive, and financing these advances can be difficult. Patients are moved out of hospital rapidly, and those that remain are more acutely ill than they have been in the past. Those discharged patients often need more assistance at home and in the community than in previous years, and those services can also be expensive. Nurses are a vital part of the health care scene, but nursing shortages have appeared in many areas, shortages that are predicted to worsen over time. Chaos theory talks about dissolution of old patterns and development of new. The nursing profession needs to begin to recognize new trends and patterns that are emerging in health care. Change theory tells us that unsettled a time, a form of unfreezing of old patterns, is also an era of opportunity. Changes are inevitable, and both nursing and especially nursing education are in an excellent position to lead rather than follow. But that is not easy. It takes energy, ideas and commitment. This is our time of opportunity! It is crucial that nurses become involved in the political process and that we teach our students and future leaders how to do that. It is crucial that nurses learn to collect data to document health care needs and our impact on the health of our societies. Nurses must learn how to identify those health care needs of patients,

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