May 6th kicks off a week-long commemoration of nurses and their contributions to medicine. This year, however, the American Nursing Association couples its celebration with a call-to-action, advocating for an increase in nurses to avoid a primary care shortage in years to come.

The Affordable Care Act’s systemic shift to primary care, prevention and chronic disease management, relies on leadership from nurses, and more nurses need to be added to the workforce to continue to support additional patients the ACA has brought in to the healthcare system.

“All nurses are leaders, whether they are in direct patient care, administrative roles, or meeting consumers’ needs in new roles such as care coordinators or wellness coaches,” said ANA President Karen A. Daley, PhD, RN, FAAN, in a press release.

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.1 million nursing jobs will become available from 2012 to 2022, not only to cover an increase of patients, but to replace the 53% of nurses over the age of 50 as they retire.

While National Nurses Week is a cause for celebration for all that RNs and NPs do, it also serves as a reminder to about the importance of focusing on nurses for developing better medical practices. 

The ANA recommends:

  • Increasing funding for federal Nursing Workforce Development Programs
  • Recruiting more nursing professors and increase incentives
  • Ensuring an adequate amount of clinical training sites so nursing students can fulfill educational requirements
  • Hiring new nursing graduates and establishing mentorship programs with experienced nurses

“We acknowledge nurses’ vast contributions, as well as the need to develop the nursing workforce to meet our growing needs and improve the health of the nation,” Daley said.