New Roles for Nurses

California’s more than 400,000 registered nurses have a huge opportunity to meet the public’s evolving health care needs. The Nurse Role Exploration Project is designed to address gaps in care delivery by identifying new roles for Registered Nurses (RNs) in California’s health care system.

More than 5.5 million additional Californians became eligible for health insurance coverage through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in January 2014, but there are currently too few primary care providers to deliver services for them. In addition, California’s healthcare system faces the challenge of serving a population that is extremely diverse, mobile and aging. As the largest provider group in California, nurses a great opportunity to rapidly expand capacity within the healthcare delivery system. However, to be fully effective, nurses will need to assume new roles.
More than 300 participants in a series of meetings convened by HealthImpact in 2013 prioritized five new roles for RNs to meet the expanding demand for health care:

• Care coordinator
• Faculty team leader
• Informatics specialist
• Community nurse
• Primary care partner

Many questions remain. How will future nurses prepare for these new roles? How will experienced RNs get the necessary education to move into new roles? What are the skills that future nurses will need and how will the current education process change to give them those skills as health care focuses on wellness, prevention and managing chronic conditions?
HealthImpact is continuing to facilitate discussions among nurse leaders, representatives of health care systems, patients and others to tackle some of these ongoing questions and put plans into action.

RN Role Transformation Tool
HealthImpact and the California Hospital Association created an RN Role Transformation Tool to help nurses prepare for their evolving roles. The tool predicts which new roles will be necessary for each hospital type and how important these new roles will be to meeting the hospital’s strategic goals. It also offers examples of how each role might be applied in practice.

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