Nurse in blue scrubs and mask looking down at a clipboard

The Future of Nursing for BSNs: What the National Academy of Medicine Report Means for You

Staff Writer
Reviewed by Dr. Clancey Sollis
Dec 12, 2023

Formerly known as the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) is an influential organization that assembles medical research and makes evidence-based recommendations for the healthcare industry. Their Future of Nursing reports analyze the state of the nursing industry, as well as its needs and plans for necessary developments.

Released once a decade, the NAM Future of Nursing report provides updated guidelines for the nursing industry and nursing education. These factor heavily into nursing education goals and outcomes and are especially relevant for bachelors of science in nursing (BSN) students in the 2010 report. BSN graduates go on to become nursing leaders and will help shape the industry and put the Future of Nursing recommendations into practice.

What Is the NAM Future of Nursing Report?

Every 10 years, expert nurses and researchers write the NAM Future of Nursing report to express a united vision of nursing progress and recommendations. They synthesize scientific, social, educational, and practical research into a report that considers the nursing industry from a nuanced and holistic approach.

How the NAM Future of Nursing Report Shapes Healthcare Policy and Education

Looking at the past decade’s report shows just how influential the NAM Future of Nursing report has been.

In 2011, the NAM (then called the IOM) released The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. The NAM report emphasized a need for more nurses with BSN degrees who could use their nursing, critical thinking, and leadership skills to innovate the healthcare system in years to come. The NAM recommendation that 80% of nurses earn their BSN degree by 2020 played a significant role in the development of BSN in 10 legislation and hospital policies requiring nurses to have BSN degrees.

At Joyce University, we work hard to stay on the cutting edge of nursing education and do our part to meet NAM recommendations. In 2013, we launched our RN to BSN degree completion program which gives nurses access to an accelerated, flexible educational pathway to advance their careers in as few as 20 months, while they are working as nurses.

Future of Nursing Recommendations and Patient Outcomes

The numbers back them up — NAM Future of Nursing recommendations have big implications for healthcare delivery and patient outcomes. A 2021 study found that surgical patient mortality decreases by 5% for every 10% increase in a hospital’s proportion of BSN nurses. Even though the industry has yet to meet the NAM’s recommendation that 80% of nurses earning a BSN degree, its 2011 Future of Nursing recommendation has already improved client outcomes and saved lives.

NAM Future of Nursing BSN Recommendations for 2020-2030

The NAM’s current Future of Nursing report is called Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity. This report details ways in which nurses can combat health disparities and shape the nursing field as leaders. It also outlines areas where nurses need additional support and where nursing education can improve.

The NAM Future of Nursing 2020-2030 recommendations that BSN nurses and students should be especially familiar with are:

  • Employing evidence-based programs and structures that enhance nurse well-being.
  • Protecting and strengthening the nursing workforce during public health emergencies and disasters, including climate-related disasters.
  • Collaborating on research that describes how nursing impacts “social determinants of health, environmental health, health equity, and nurses’ health and well-being.”
  • Taking nursing expertise into account while creating all initiatives that use technology to support health equity.
  • Being “prepared to address social determinants of health and achieve health equity.”

Significance of NAM Future of Nursing Recommendations for BSNs

Several of the Future of Nursing 2020-2030 recommendations emphasize how important it is for employers and educational institutions to support their nurses’ well-being. Heavy demands on nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic left scores of nurses with burnout and compassion fatigue, and many even stepped away from the nursing profession. With the current nursing shortage, it’s clearer than ever that supporting nurses is a public health measure.

The Future of Nursing 2020-2030 report recommends that institutions take evidence-based measures to care for nurses working their everyday shifts. Employers and institutions must also prepare to support nurses during public health emergencies and disasters. This is good news for BSN nurses and students, who should expect a higher standard of support from employers.

There’s also a renewed emphasis on listening to nurses’ expertise when making plans for systemic programs and policies that work toward healthcare equity. The healthcare industry is looking for nurse leaders who can join these conversations so BSN degrees are more valuable than ever as they hold more sway in these sorts of conversations than associates level nurses. Nurses with associate-level training should consider RN to BSN completion programs to help impact their lives and the community for the better.

Overall, the NAM report recommendations are geared toward building a more equitable healthcare system for all type of clients. The National Academy of Medicine calls for more research and emphasis on the social determinants of health, and all nursing students should be prepared to address health equity throughout their careers.

Key Messages for BSN Nurses from the NAM Future of Nursing 2020-2030 Report

The NAM Future of Nursing 2020-2030 report is clear: BSN nurses are key in promoting healthcare equity.

Exploring Emerging Nursing Trends

Increased awareness of social determinants of health and technological developments are shaping the nursing industry. The NAM report outlines the following nursing trends:

  • Educating the Next Generation of Nurses for the Future — The Future of Nursing 2020-2030 report emphasizes the need for future nurses to be trained to promote health equity. As the population ages and becomes increasingly diverse, our collective healthcare needs grow. The world needs dedicated nurses from diverse backgrounds to care for our growing needs.
  • Nurses and Healthcare Equity — Health equity refers to the state in which all patients have an equitable opportunity to attain their highest level of wellness. Nurses are key in the movement for increased healthcare equity. Because nurses work directly with patients, they are crucial in-patient education and preventative healthcare. Nurses also play a key role in healthcare equity by considering the social determinants of health and healthcare access when caring for their clients.
  • Innovation for Improved Patient Care — Technology and innovation are changing the nursing game. Nurses are connecting with and treating more patients than ever through telehealth, which is a gigantic step forward for improved healthcare access. Also, implementation of genetic testing is quickly becoming another useful technological tool in a nurses arsenal to combat things like mental illnesses and medication use.

How Joyce University’s BSN Curriculum Aligns with Future of Nursing Goals

BSN programs play an important role in embedding NAM recommendations into the dominant nursing culture. By training nurses in accordance with NAM guidelines, accredited BSN programs like Joyce’s, teach a new generation of nurses to stay up to date on research and professional guidelines. As an institution we talk the talk, but we also must walk the walk and apply current research to our curriculum. Here are some ways that we’ve stepped up to fulfill NAM Future of Nursing recommendations:

Fast and Flexible BSN Qualification

Joyce University is doing our part to train future nursing leaders who can shape policy and programs. We use online coursework and flexible scheduling to make a BSN degree as accessible as possible. At Joyce, working RNs can earn a BSN degree in just over a year.

But you don’t have to have any nursing experience to earn a BSN fast. Students can earn a BSN in 3 years with no college prerequisites (which is faster than most 4-year BSN programs). If you already have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, our 20 month, accelerated BSN program could be for you.

Joyce Teaches Nursing Leadership

BSN nurses are in high demand for nursing leadership positions because they have the management skills that leadership roles demand. Our BSN programs prepare students with leadership courses so that they’re ready to shape the nursing industry. You can also earn a Joyce MSN in nursing leadership once you realize how much you can do and grow in the leadership field.

Holistic Nursing that Incorporates Social Determinants of Health

Joyce further aligns with NAM Future of Nursing recommendations by focusing on a holistic approach to nursing that incorporates social determinants of health. In holistic nursing, we think about healing a whole person, not just one ailment. This means that Joyce nurses are prepared to consider social determinants of health as well as emotional, spiritual, and mental health.

Joyce’s Clinical Practice

Joyce’s nursing clinicals give students the opportunity to learn about social determinants of health up close and personal. From hospitals, community health centers, and mental health clinics to international organizations, Joyce nursing students work in a wide array of clinical healthcare settings and learn from each one. Read more about Joyce nursing clinicals here.

Community Engagement and Health Promotion

Joyce faculty and students stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic to screen and test community populations as part of the Medical Reserve Corps operation. Between April and November of 2020 alone, students and faculty volunteered nearly 10,000 hours to the MRC. Read more about Joyce’s pandemic-era community engagement and health promotion.

Implementing the NAM Future of Nursing Report

Implementing the NAM Future of Nursing 2020-2030 report requires educational and policy updates, as well as a cultural shift in the way nurses think about healthcare equity.

Successful Implementation Strategies

COVID relief legislation called the American Rescue Plan has funded nursing scholarships, loan repayments, and job placements for nurses working in underserved and rural areas.

Increased telehealth access also improves health equity.

Ongoing Challenges for Implementation

The legislative process moves slowly, so it takes time to turn NAM recommendations into laws. Hospital policies can also take a long time to change.

Future Steps for Implementing Future of Nursing Recommendations

Turning NAM recommendations into policies, laws, and practices doesn’t happen overnight. When effective nursing leaders keep these recommendations at the forefront of policy-focused conversations, however, they make progress. Nursing schools can also play a role in implementing NAM recommendations by adopting their norms in their BSN curricula, thus training a generation of nurses for whom NAM recommendations are second nature.

The NAM Future of Nursing 2020-2030 report is clear: nurses are vitally important and have the power to shape the future of healthcare. Nurses should expect to work for institutions that prioritize their well-being and should prepare to take on leadership positions with BSN training.

A Joyce BSN degree that emphasizes research and leadership is a powerful way to step into your role as the future of the nursing industry. Talk to an admissions officer and learn more about our BSN program.



Learn More


Learn More

Apply Now

Request Info