May is National Nurses Month, a time when we celebrate the difference that nurses—and nurse scientists—make. In fact, the theme for 2023 is “You make a difference.” Both nurses and nurse scientists play a vital role in optimizing health, advancing health equity, and ensuring all people have the access, opportunity, and ability to lead healthy lives. I am honored to recognize the nurses working tirelessly to promote health and wellness across the lifespan, whether they are conducting innovative research or providing care in schools, workplaces, homes, justice settings, hospitals, health centers, or communities at large.
At NINR, we think that nursing’s distinct perspective is what makes us unique as an NIH Institute. Our research is focused on health solutions for people in the context of their lives and living conditions, and across the many settings where nurses practice. It’s this perspective that is key to advancing science that will solve the Nation’s most pressing and persistent health challenges and achieve health equity.
One year ago, we released our 2022-2026 strategic plan, which proposed a bold new research agenda that considers the whole picture of health, especially for historically marginalized populations. Since last year, we’ve released 6 new funding opportunities aligned with our new strategic plan and contributed to many more through NIH initiatives such as ComPASS, IMPROVE, HEAL, and Climate Change and Health. And this past January we announced our first strategic imperative: firearm injury prevention.
Here at NINR, we have many nurses and nurse scientists working to generate new knowledge every day. Whether they are conducting research themselves, or administering our grants to others, all the nurses at NINR are doing their part to advance the field of nursing and improve the health of individuals and communities. I am proud to be working alongside them.
I am also proud of the nurse scientists NINR supports at universities and other institutions across the Nation. They are addressing emerging health issues by conducting research that informs practice and policy. Our funded investigators are: using multiple strategies to help to reduce maternal health disparities; exploring lessons learned from nurses during the pandemic; examining nurse practitioner practices and their role in addressing social determinants of health; assessing new technologies and strategies for enhancing access to care through mobile and telehealth; and working with community health workers to improve outcomes for people living with HIV.
These researchers—and the hundreds more supported by NINR—are truly making a difference. Every time I review an application for funding, speak with nurse scientists across the country, or participate in a conference, I am inspired by the rigorous, transformative research being conducted. As we look to the future, I have no doubt that this research is driving groundbreaking solutions.
I am so grateful for the dedication, passion, and commitment of all the nurses and nurse scientists who work day in and day out to optimize health and advance health equity into the future.
Shannon N. Zenk, PhD, MPH, RN