Nurses are the heartbeat of health care. Their round-the-clock presence in many settings, keen understanding of health and disease and sensitivity to patient and family needs ensure safe care as well as build healthy communities. No other health profession has such varied and far-reaching roles. As the practice of nursing continues to evolve—in response to changes in knowledge, technology and health care needs—the responsibilities of professional nurses have expanded and new specialties have emerged. Well-educated nurses with advanced skills work both independently and in partnership with physicians and other health care professionals.