Since its inception in 1972, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF or Foundation) has recognized nurses' critical role in expanding access, improving quality, and reducing the cost of health care. This issue of Charting Nursing's Future celebrates four decades of RWJF investments targeting nursing's ability to improve care and strengthen the nursing profession. This brief explores the impact of Foundation programs in five areas: (1) expanding roles for nurses, (2) building educational capacity, (3) demonstrating nurses' contributions to quality and safety, (4) creating leaders for the 21st century, and (5) bridging gaps in research and data. Programs in these areas have had a significant influence on policy and practice. Moreover, they provide valuable lessons for strengthening the nursing profession and leveraging nurses' contributions to meet the demands of a reformed health care system.
The programs featured in this issue are those that have been designed with nurses in mind; however, there are many others - such as the Center for Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice and the Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellows program - that serve the broader health care workforce including nurses. With the IOM's 2011 report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, as its guide, the Foundation's future investments will continue in this tradition.