Nurses—from the operating room to the wellness clinic, from the nursing home to the birthing center, from the school health office to the intensive care unit—we count on them to give the shot, hold the hand, manage the care, answer the questions, and give trusted advice. Nurses play a central role in nearly every aspect of the health care we depend on for ourselves, our families, friends, and loved ones.
How can patients receive improved care during the transition from hospital to home care? How can teenagers with Type 1 diabetes be taught to improve their own skills at coping with the disease? What strategies can reduce HIV risk among young minority women? How can end-of-life care be more supportive and less stressful?
These are just four of the many important areas that the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) has researched and supported for more than two decades. Their research has led directly to results that have been widely implemented in many health care situations.
While many Americans are familiar with nursing, most are not aware of the crucial health care contributions made by nurse scientists across the nation. As our national health care system continues to evolve, it is clear that nurses at every level are playing a vital part in many traditional and emerging health care venues. This comes at a very important time for the American public, notes NINR Director Patricia A. Grady, Ph.D., RN, FAAN.
"Our health care system will face new and significant challenges as the 21st century progresses and our
population continues to grow, age, and become more diverse," she says. "Many diseases that were once
acute and life-threatening, such as heart disease, diabetes, and HIV, are now long-term chronic conditions."
Finding ways to help treat these chronic conditions is a part of the four focal areas for nursing research.
- promoting health and preventing disease
- improving quality of life for patients
- finding solutions to health disparities (inequalities among different populations)
- discovering ways to make end-of-life care better.