A Journey Well Worth Taking

Oct 15, 2013, 11:00 AM, Posted by

Linda Burnes Bolton, DrPH, RN, FAAN, is vice president for nursing, chief nursing officer, and director of nursing research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She was vice chair of the Institute of Medicine Commission on the Future of Nursing, and is a trustee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It has been three years since the Institute of Medicine issued Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.


Developing the Institute of Medicine report, Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health and working to implement its recommendations has been a magnificent journey. It hasn’t been about nursing, but rather about health and health care. We focus on nursing, because it is one of the keys to improving health and health care. But our success, and the reason people are joining us on this journey, is because the report and its recommendations mean better health for the public and a stronger health care system for the country.

Linda Burnes Bolton

What began as a report has become a groundswell.  It is doing exactly what we hoped it would do, bringing people together to strengthen our health care system. Today a large, multidisciplinary, national movement is engaging nurses, consumers, and other health professionals in local and regional efforts to bring this report to life. There are great examples, for instance, of people from diverse fields coming together to remove practice barriers, physicians saying they believe medicine must be a “team sport,” consumers working to improve care in their communities—and much more.

Every day we continue on this journey, we learn more.  Our goal is value-based health care—giving all people care that is accessible, equitable, inclusive and effective—and ensuring that the people who are involved in delivering that care represent the body public. We need a health care system that is inclusive, and those who deliver care to be inclusive of all. 

So as we celebrate third year of the future of nursing, I am proud to celebrate the milestones we have achieved. But I also know that we still have a long way to go. It is wonderful that those of us who developed the report are not making this journey alone. We have diverse, broad-based Action Coalitions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia taking this journey with us. 

I was reminded recently that it took a long-term commitment by consumers and others to win Medicare.  It will take a long-term commitment by a diverse community to implement the future of nursing recommendations, too.  But we are well on our way. And I know we will succeed because we are doing this to benefit the people, not just the profession. Our goal on this journey is to advance health.  Others have heard that message and that is why they are on this journey with us. It is, truly, a journey and not a trip.

Learn more about the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action here.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.