The Future of Nursing: Continuous Development

Table of Contents

Nursing is continuously developing as a profession, requiring more knowledge and the educational credentials to support it. Nurses are encouraged to study at specialized schools and attain degrees from baccalaureate to the recently introduced doctorate of nursing practice. Furthermore, even after finishing their education, nursing graduates are expected to engage in lifelong learning to maintain a standard of knowledge corresponding to the most recent advances in medicine. This essay outlines the author’s perception of their role in the system proposed by the IOM Future of Nursing through an examination of three recommendations.

Attainment of The Baccalaureate Degree

The first recommendation examined is the suggestion to increase the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree to 80% by 2020. According to Trautman (2015), the release of the initiative resulted in a significant increase in both bachelor and master programs. As the author is currently studying to get that degree, they are following the recommendation. Additionally, the higher qualification of educated nurses makes the entrance to the profession easier for them than those without higher education, which makes it likely that the recommendation will be fulfilled sooner or later.

Attainment of a Doctorate

The next recommendation concerns doubling the number of nurses with a doctorate by 2020. As the author is currently a student, it is impossible for them to obtain a DNP degree by 2020. However, working to attain a doctorate in the future is a proposition that merits consideration because of the opportunities it opens. These opportunities are job advancement and the ability to become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN).

Advanced nursing practice encompasses working as a certified midwife, anesthetist, clinical specialist, and nurse practitioner. According to Kleinpell et al. (2014), while many countries recommend a master’s degree for the entry level to the profession, the United States proposes attaining the doctorate of nursing practice before beginning APRN practice. As such, the degree provides a nurse with a significant advantage regarding work opportunities.

Engaging in Lifelong Learning

The final recommendation examined involves lifelong learning among nurses to stay aware of the current developments and the state of the profession. As nursing practice is continuously developing in terms of both methodology and organization, the author considers it necessary to maintain an understanding of these changes. Without this knowledge, the nurse’s education and experience may quickly become obsolete, impeding their effectiveness and therefore negatively impacting their career.

Role of Education in Nursing

The successive degrees in nursing practice make narrower and more advanced specializations available. Graduates of bachelor and master courses can become registered nurses, who oversee the licensed practical nurses (who only need postsecondary education) and work with healthcare specialists to administer medicine, monitor patients and educate their families on illness management. APRNs are recommended to have a doctorate and perform similar duties to registered nurses, but work independently and can attend a patient on their own. Higher levels of education also enable a nurse to conduct research and propose initiatives, allowing them to influence the future of the profession.


After reviewing the IOM Future of Nursing recommendation, the author of this essay believes themselves to be following two of them and considering the third. The suggestion they are thinking about is the attainment of a doctorate, as the degree takes a significant amount of time and effort to obtain and is not intended for every nurse. However, after reviewing the options available to nurses with different education levels on the market and the role of each level in the future of nursing, the author has determined that although obtaining a bachelor’s degree is necessary to succeed as a nurse, APRN is a rapidly expanding role and may warrant the corresponding degree.


Kleinpell, R., Scanlon, A., Hibbert, D., Ganz, F. D., East, L., Fraser, D., Wong, F. K. Y., & Beauchesne, M. (2014). Addressing issues impacting advanced nursing practice worldwide. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 19(2).

Trautman, D. E. (2015). Moving the needle: What the data tell us about academic progression. American Nurse Today, 10(9), 4-5.

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