I am honored to begin my tenure as director of the National Institute of Nursing Research. For nearly 35 years, NINR has been a vital partner in the research mission of the National Institutes of Health, supporting science that has promoted and improved the health and lives of individuals, families, and communities. Nursing science has led to better management of adverse symptoms, new strategies for preventing chronic conditions, and hope and comfort for those with advanced illness. NINR-supported scientists provide a critical link between the research and practice settings, leading multidisciplinary studies to generate new evidence and translating those findings into practice.
While NINR has accomplished much, there is so much more to be done. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has reminded our society of the indispensable roles of nurses as they selflessly endure great risk during this unprecedented public health crisis. From nurses caring for patients in hospitals and clinics across the Nation, to those in schools, health departments, and other community settings, we are so appreciative of the work you do. At NINR, we have a responsibility to the nursing community to support rigorous, high-impact science that will ensure that the work of nurses is always guided by the best evidence.
These times have also once again highlighted the inequities that persist in our society. While nursing science has helped to make progress in reducing health inequities, it is clear that we have a long way to go before they are eliminated entirely. Moving forward, NINR and the nursing science community must reaffirm and expand our commitment to research that will lead to healthier lives for everyone.
At the same time, we are at a crossroads as a profession. We must ensure that a sufficient number of nurses are pursuing a research doctorate, and that the opportunities to do so are available to all who are interested. We must also make sure that these new scientists are exceptionally prepared to lead and contribute to high-impact research. To truly prosper as a science, we must work to create a strong, innovative, and diverse workforce fully positioned to address any upcoming challenge and opportunity.
I am so proud to lead this esteemed organization into the next phase of its history. Next year, NINR will release a new strategic plan to guide our research and training activities over the next five years. I encourage all of you to participate in that process as the plan is developed and to offer your feedback. I look forward to working with the dedicated staff at NINR, our NIH colleagues, and all of you to continue the great work of this Institute and to create a future in which nursing research stands at the scientific forefront in improving health and quality of life for all.
Shannon N. Zenk, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN