Today there are multiple health challenges facing our nation: an aging and increasingly diverse population; people living longer but with multiple chronic conditions; and the persistent and troubling fact that many people with advanced illness spend their last days, months, or years often with poorly managed symptoms in settings that do not reflect their needs or preferences.  As has always been the case, where some see challenges, the field of nursing science, and we at the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), see a tremendous opportunity to continue to have a significant impact on the health and quality of life of those across the U.S. and the world beyond.  Given the strongly clinical focus of nursing science, the research supported by NINR plays an indispensable role in addressing the health challenges of today and tomorrow.  Nursing science provides the evidence base to support the practice of the largest healthcare profession, as well as to improve wellness and quality of life for all individuals, regardless of age, resources, or health status. 

This past year NINR commemorated its 30th anniversary at the NIH.  Throughout this year we, along with the entire nursing science community, have reflected on how far NINR and nursing science have come. But more importantly, we have continued to look towards the future, at new ways for nursing science to meet opportunities and challenges that may arise. On the heels of our anniversary, NINR is pleased to announce the release of its Strategic Plan: Advancing Science, Improving Lives: A Vision for Nursing Science.  Building on the programs of research described in the Institute’s 2011 Strategic Plan, past scientific accomplishments, and current research priorities, four areas of scientific focus are highlighted in our new Plan:

  • Symptom Science: Promoting Personalized Health Strategies
  • Wellness: Promoting Health and Preventing Illness
  • Self-Management: Improving Quality of Life for Individuals with Chronic Conditions
  • End-of-Life and Palliative Care: The Science of Compassion 

NINR also identified areas vital to advancing the Institute’s research portfolio, which are emphasized throughout all programs and activities at NINR: 

  • Promoting Innovation: Technology to Improve Health
  • 21st Century Nurse Scientists: Innovative Strategies for Research Careers 

The future research directions of these focus areas were shaped through the Innovative Questions (IQ) initiative, an initiative by NINR to encourage new thinking and creativity from the broader scientific community and general public.  The innovative questions that emerged from the initiative are posted on the NINR website as a resource to all in the nursing science community.  It is our hope that nurse scientists can look to these questions as they shape their research programs, and that the public can see the breadth of questions that can be addressed by nursing science. 

As we look toward the future of nursing science, NINR will continue to evolve in supporting scientific research, facing new health challenges and needs as they emerge.  Emerging needs and opportunities go hand-in-hand—thus, NINR’s goals are to identify proactive, innovative solutions to these challenges, which will allow NINR to continue to advance cutting-edge science to improve the health of the Nation.  However, NINR is aware we cannot predict precisely where science, innovation, or health challenges will take us.  Therefore, it is important to remember that this Strategic Plan is a flexible, living document.  NINR will regularly assess the emerging body of science and health challenges that arise, and adapt the Institute’s research strategies to meet these needs.

Finally, this Strategic Plan would not have been possible without the invaluable contributions of those who participated in the IQ initiative, and the helpful input received from the scientific community and the public on the draft version of the Strategic Plan. Thank you all for helping to make this vision of nursing science possible.  I am excited for the nursing science community as we work together to advance health and improve the lives of our fellow citizens.

Patricia A. Grady, PhD, RN, FAAN

Director
National Institute of Nursing Research
National Institutes of Health

The NINR 2016 Strategic Plan can be viewed at www.ninr.nih.gov/strategicplan.