Imogene King’s theory of goal attainment is a theoretical framework allowing nursing students to set specific health care goals with a patient and meet them through the close nurse-patient relationship (Wayne, 2014). A recent expansion of the scope of practice for nurse practitioners (NPs), nurse educators, and nurse leaders significantly contributes to the attainment of those goals. As of 2016, NPs were able to practice without direct oversight from physicians in 21 states (NP Schools, 2016). According to the definition of the scope of practice provided by AANP (2015), NPs can “practice in ambulatory, acute, and long-term care as primary and/or specialty care providers” (para. 2). Nurse leaders and nurse educators can also perform their functions in these settings.
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Even though the nursing practice has seen dramatic changes over the last half-century, its primary goals remain the same: the provision of high-quality and effective care. However, there has been a shift towards a patient-based approach in the delivery of health care and the evolution of a traditional nursing role which has provided a unifying focus to practice (NP Schools, 2016). In the face of impending policy changes threatening to introduce a substantial reduction in health care spending, thereby leaving millions of U.S. citizens without health coverage the master’s prepared nurses have to be able to translate scholarship into practice. It will help to incorporate the scientific approach into the delivery of health care services, thus reducing the number of medical errors and improving health outcomes. Moreover, by using their research skills, master’s prepared nurses will be able to enhance the quality of their decision-making process and “bring evidence-based practice” (AACN, 2011, p. 16) to their patients.
The theory of goal attainment developed by Imogene King emphasizes the importance of focusing on a nurse-patient partnership for the attainment of nursing goals. Nowhere this partnership is as important as in the scope of nursing practice, which defines the “procedures, actions, and processes” (Wayne, 2014, para. 6) that can be performed by health care workers within legal frameworks of jurisdictions in which they practice. The current scope of practice allows NPs, nurse educators, and nurse leaders to practice in ambulatory, acute, and long-term care settings (AANP, 2015). It should be noted that along with the changing role of a health care provider, the current goals of nursing have changed over the past half-century and now they reflect the focus on patient-and-family-centered care. The role of NPs as community leaders and educators reflects the dimensions of nursing practice that have allowed them to function independently as patients’ advocates, thereby unifying its focus over time.
One of the main duties of master’s prepared nurses is to strive for the continuous improvement of the process of delivery of health care services (AACN, 2011). It means that they have to resolve practice problems by relying on the most recent evidence garnered with the help of their research skills. Also, the master’s prepared nurses have to utilize their knowledge of data gathering and pattern recognition to identify and eliminate the inefficiencies in their approach to care delivery. It is especially important in the time when a large number of Americans can be left without access to health care services. NPS have to understand that if the federal government introduces significant reduction of spending on the Medicare and Medicaid programs, thereby drastically increasing the number of people who are not able to obtain health care services, they will have to rely on their ability to translate research into practice to produce better health care outcomes for the same costs.
AACN. (2011). The essentials of master’s education in nursing. Web.
AANP. (2015). Scope of practice for nurse practitioners. Web.
NP Schools. (2016). Nurse practitioner scope of practice. Web.
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Wayne, G. (2014). Imogene M. King’s theory of goal attainment. Web.