fundamental improvements in the safety and quality of care, and to capture the full economic value of their contributions across practice settings.
At the same time, the nursing profession has its challenges. While there are concerns regarding the number of nurses available to meet the demands of the health care system and the needs of patients, and there is reason to view as a priority replacing at least 900,000 nurses over the age of 50 (BLS, 2009), the composition of the workforce is turning out to be an even greater challenge for the future of the profession. The workforce is generally not as diverse as it needs to be—with respect to race and ethnicity (just 16.8 percent of the workforce is non-white), gender (approximately 7 percent of employed nurses are male), or age (the median age of nurses is 46, compared to 38 in 1988)—to provide culturally relevant care to all populations (HRSA, 2010). Many members of the profession lack the education and preparation necessary to adapt to new roles quickly in response to rapidly changing health care settings and an evolving health care sys-