Future trends in nursing practice and nursing education: A Delphi probe of change to 2015

Date of Completion

January 1994


Health Sciences, Education|Health Sciences, Nursing|Health Sciences, Public Health




The purpose of this study was to generate a consensus position among experts in nursing as to what nursing's role will be like in the 21st century. The results of this study provide a list of the most probable changes that will impact on nursing practice and nursing education as we enter the 21st century.^ America's health care system is currently experiencing massive, rapid changes due to spiraling health care costs, advances in biomedical technology, and changing consumer needs and demands. These changes will become more numerous and complex as we enter the 21st century. As a social profession and one of the health care professions, nursing is greatly affected by changes, problems and issues within society as well as the health care system.^ Among the ways of gathering information about the future is the solicitation of the opinions of experts. The underlying assumption is that those actively engaged in studying a field would have a strong sense of impending developments within the field. The Delphi technique was used to obtain the opinions of experts. The research employed three rounds of questionnaires and were completed by twenty three experts. Round I participants were asked to list the ten most significant changes in nursing practice and nursing education that will occur in response to projected future trends within society and health care in the next 20 years. From the responses to Round I, a list of the forty most frequently cited changes were compiled for use in Round II. Probability and desirability of each change were compiled. Round III responses generated a refined list of probability and desirability responses as well as commentary from the panelists.^ Changes anticipated within the nursing profession by the year 2015 were clustered into the following five groups: nursing practice; professional issues; nursing education; health care financing; and nursing management. The experts volunteered their opinions and estimates of future changes and worked towards a consensus. The view of the future they project is one in which nurses fulfill an expanded role within the health care system. This expanded role will require additional preparation and education to meet the needs of an everchanging population in the 21st century. ^