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The Future of Nursing Science

May 26, 2021

I assumed the role of NINR Director in September 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic; in fact, out of an abundance of caution, Dr. Collins officially swore me into this role virtually. As we finally begin to emerge from this public health crisis, NINR continues to look to the future with the ongoing development of the NINR Strategic Plan for 2022-2026. The new plan will outline our future research goals and objectives and our vision for nursing science.

Nurses understand that improving health and well-being requires addressing health needs at multiple levels: individual, family, community, and societal. NINR research uses this perspective to improve individual and population health and advance health equity by identifying nursing practice and policy solutions across clinical and community settings that are responsive to the realities of people’s lives.

To that end, on May 11, the National Academy of Medicine released the long-anticipated report The Future of Nursing 2020–2030: Charting a Path to Health Equity. This report makes a compelling case for nurses assuming a leading role in overcoming and eliminating the persistent health inequities in our society, and I encourage you to review the report’s recommendations. It is clear from the report that nursing science is an important part of this effort, and as a leader in the field of nursing science, NINR is integral to funding research that will contribute to the evidence base needed to achieve The Future of Nursing’s goals relating to health equity.

In addition, on May 18, a working group of renowned experts convened under the National Advisory Council for Nursing Research (NACNR) presented a list of recommendations for potential future NINR research areas. The working group’s report identified strengths, limitations, challenges, and opportunities in nursing science. Goals described in the report include dismantling structures that perpetuate racism and impede health equity and using nursing science’s multilevel perspective to develop and implement interventions to address social determinants of health across the lifespan. Through these two reports, it’s apparent that our nation’s nurses and nurse scientists have a clear role in addressing the health inequities that have manifested in poor health outcomes for far too many in our society.

As we build the framework of the new strategic plan, we will evaluate The Future of Nursing report’s recommendations, and those of the NACNR working group. We will continue to collect input from numerous sources inside and outside the nursing science community to inform a vision for the future of nursing science. We encourage everyone—investigators, students, organizations, and the public—to give us your feedback and ideas.

As nurses, we know people—and at NINR, we know nursing science. Together, we can improve individual and population health and advance health equity.


Shannon N. Zenk, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN
Director, NINR

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