Aims To assess challenges and response strategy for the development of nursing disciplines and proposes suggestions to promote the construction of nursing discipline, platform and talent team based on the currently available best evidence. Methods Database of CNKI, VIP and CBM, and official websites of World Health Organization, International Council of Nurses, World Bank, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education were searched. Data analyses were performed using SPSS 13.0. Results 886 nursing schools were found in China, and 38,212 nursing students enrolled in universities or independent colleges, 130,837 students recruited by colleges or senior vocational schools. Doctor to nurse ratio was 1 to 0.9 in 2011, and the actual demands of doctors were 2.6 million, while nursing shortage was approximately 346,000. Nurses aged ≤ 35 years accounted for 50% of total. 64%∼69% of nurses with primary professional titles while less than 2.5% of those with advanced titles. Training cost for a doctor or nurse in China was only 2/5 the cost in India or 1/5 to1/4 of sub-Saharan. To date, only 30.1% of disaster nursing literatures provided research data, while 30.6% described experience and 38.3% were only summaries. Conclusions It is concluded that education and health systems must be reformed deeply. Nursing students should be cultivated with core competency and transformative learning. Teaching schoolbooks and methods should be updated, and fund investment should be increased reasonably. Nursing discipline should cooperate with interdisciplinary and provide evidence-based nursing to improve the quality of healthcare services and patient satisfaction.

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