Nurses are the future of health care. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) (2010), ensuring access to health care for millions of Americans and emphasizing prevention and high quality health care, has placed nursing in the center of health care reform. More than any other health care workforce, baccalaureate and advanced practice nurses will provide basic health care to many of these newly insured Americans. With the ACA’s emphasis on quality and health, nurses can and must design health care systems that promote the health and well-being of people across the life-span. The Institute of Medicine’s report on the Future of Nursing (2010) provides a blueprint for health care systems led by nurses and a charge to nursing educators to design programs that produce nurses capable of leading this transformation of health care.

But we must act now. Nursing educators should work with practice, health system, legislative, and community partners to design and implement educational programs that produce a high quality, educated, and diverse nursing workforce that is prepared to improve health for key populations most in need of health care and to be agents of change in the evolving health care environment. Nursing Educators and their community partners must find ways to ensure access to the many who wish to be nurses, but who currently cannot be accommodated in nursing education programs in Delaware and across the county. This means thinking differently about how nurses are educated at the baccalaureate and graduate levels. It means ensuring educational career ladders and working with educational and practice partners to optimally use resources and increase accessibility to education for working nurses.

It’s a new day in Delaware and it’s a good one for nurses. The University of Delaware’s “Delaware will Shine” strategic initiative commits the University to Delawareans, diversity, partnership, engagement, and impact, all critical to meeting the challenges of health care in Delaware. This is a good foundation for the School of Nursing as it works to meet the challenges of preparing nurses who will provide health care in the state. Governor Markell’s recent signing of legislation authorizing the independent practice of advanced practice nurses in Delaware enables graduate nurses from the University of Delaware, School of Nursing to practice to the full extent of their education and training and to shape the emerging health care system.

Emily Hauenstein

The School of Nursing is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2016. Come join us in the School of Nursing as we begin to forge the next 50 years of nursing education and in leading health care into the future.

Emily Hauenstein

Emily J. Hauenstein, PhD, LCP, MSN, FAAN
Professor and Unidel Katherine L. Esterly Chair in Health Sciences
Senior Associate Dean for Nursing and Healthcare Innovation

So never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself. –Florence Nightingale