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A lot has changed since nurses walked around hospitals in skirts and stockings. Fifty years ago, doctors treated nurses as assistants, and most administrators saw the role as an extension of a women's caregiving.
Today, nursing makes up one of the largest workforce in healthcare. And as the American baby boomer population ages, will the nursing workforce. A variety of factors influence trends in the evolving field of nursing. The following looks are the future of nursing and trends that everyone in the nursing profession should know about and welcome into their work.
Job Growth Will Continue
A variety of factors are driving the need for nurses in the U.S. Among them is an aging population that requires more health services. And as more people are aware of the importance of preventive healthcare, they make more use of healthcare services. The World Health Assembly has declared 2020 the year of the nurse because nine million more nurses are currently needed to reach universal health coverage by 2030.
WHA, the governing body of the World Health Organization believes it can help reach that goal by partnering with other global organizations to recognize the work of nurses and midwives.
Here are a few more notable facts about nurse job growth:
- Federal projections call for 371,500 nurses to join the workforce between 2018 and 2028.
- There are around 2.86 million nurses in the U.S.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 28% increase in the number of nurse practitioners between 2018 and 2028.
The landscape for registered nurses (RN) looks as strong. The BLS projects that the profession will grow by 12% from 2018 to 2028. And the landscape is in the need for even more RNs.
As the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) warns that current enrollments of prospective nurses in training programs may not meet the demand.
Some states are projected to see more nursing jobs than others too. For example, California, Texas, and Pennsylvania are among the Top 5 states that employ nurses.
As job growth expands, so do specializations. Nurses have the benefit of choosing from a variety of areas, including pediatrics, mental health and assisted living. Earning a certification is necessary for each field as well as extensive training and education. The most traditional way to become a nurse is through a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Another option is to complete online nurse practitioner programs. These allow people to handle busy schedules and not compromise other responsibilities.
As the nursing field experiences unprecedented growth, some specialty areas facing shortages include:
- Neonatal Nurse
- Nurse Midwife
- Clinical Nurse
- Dialysis Nurse
- Nurse Practitioner
- Informatics Nurse
- Pain Management Nurse
- Geriatric Nurse
- Public Health Nurse
Expansion of Telehealth
The number of telehealth services installed in hospitals for patients is expected to expand in 2020. Telehealth provides patients better access to healthcare services and providers through video, phone calls, and wearable medical devices. Patients will find it convenient to remotely communicate and share data to schedule wellness checks or discuss health screen numbers with nurses and doctors.
In fact, Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in the program's private plan, Medicare Advantage might test telehealth services sooner than later. According to the Bipartisan Budget Act, which takes effect in 2020, MA enrollees could have greater access to those remote health care services.
How does that look for nurses? Well, it's an advantageous opportunity. "Nurses are using telehealth technologies in a variety of health care and health education settings. They are a great opportunity for health promotion, wellness checks, and patient care," said Bonnie Fuller, a Certified Nurse Educator in a Purdue University interview.
Nurse Practitioners Take on a Bigger Role
As the number of primary care physicians continues to drop, nurse practitioners are taking a bigger role in healthcare. Roles once held by doctors, like prescribing medication, examining and advising patients.
This is pertinent in rural and inner-city areas, where the shortage of primary care physicians keeps rising.An aging population and a focus on preventive care are two of the main reasons for the increase in the number of nurse practitioners nationwide.
Rise of Outpatient Centers
Since hospitals strive for high turnover rates, outpatient centers are very important. That also means more job opportunities for nurses. Revenues from outpatient centers are now almost as high as those from inpatient care. That trend is expected to continue.
Health Informatics Takes Centerstage
Health informatics is more than collecting and maintaining patient records. Professionals with informatics skills, including nurses are in demand due to an overflow of healthcare data. The data helps improve patient care and support clinicians in making informed decisions. Nurses that tackle informatics will require the ability to analyze and share correct data and fast in ways it has never been done before. Although this is a relatively new area, nurses will play a key role.
Advances in Technology
Like informatics, innovations in technology will play a big role in nursing. Nurses will benefit from new technologies but will have to keep up with best practices to improve patient care. The internet of things (IoT), for example, is expansive in the healthcare systems. IoT uses sensors to collect and transmit data, making wearable medical devices a more common part of medical care.
Seven other technologies transforming nurses everyday job include:
- Automated IV pumps - Helps speed up nursing processes and removes elements of human error.
- Portable monitors - Allow nurses to check up on patients when if they're on the move. Portable monitors also allow these professionals to track and note statistics at the right time.
- Smart beds - Helps nurses identify patterns that can lead to a new diagnosis.
- Electronic health records - This information can be accessed quickly and can give nurses more insights as alerts or reminders.
- Centralized command centers - This new idea for hospitals promises improved patient experiences. As well as expedient ways for register nurses and doctors to manage clinical technology, capacity, and supplies.
- Telehealth and apps - Clinics and hospitals allow patients to virtually video-chat with doctors or nurses. This allows nurses to offer expedited services without compromising the quality of their work.
Other trends that are likely to change the way nurses operate include virtual care nursing, as an extension for telehealth services. Remote monitoring for critical health provides more consistent patient care and gives nurses options too keep practicing in the field longer.
Hospitals are even taking strides for tech-savvy recognition. These include John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD and Massachusetts Generals in Boston, MA.
How Has Nursing Changed Over the Years?
Nurses have faced an array of changes. It's hard to believe that in the mid-19th century, the public objected to the idea of women nursing strangers. This took a turn as soon as Florence Nightingale, a British citizen and social reformer, established the first science-based nursing school in London.
In fact, today nurses continue to work as social reformers and are key to the transformation of healthcare. As part of the year of the nurse, WHA released a list of facts about what nurses do around the world.
- Nurses play a crucial role in health promotion, primary care, community care, and emergency care.
- To achieve universal healthcare, health centers require well-trained, regulated and educated nurses.
One noticeable change has also been formalized education. By the second half of the 20th century, patient needs became more complex, and skilled nurses were needed to manage the cases. By 1960, the U.S. had over 170 college nursing programs. Today, approximately 870 schools offer nursing education.
When it comes to preparation, nurses are as well equipped as ever before. Employers express a strong preference for new nurses with bachelors. The standard today is quite different from that of ten years ago. In 2010, The Institute of Medicine (IOM) made the recommendation that more than half of registered nurses should hold a bachelor's degree by 2020.
In 2018, 17.1% of the nation's registered nurses held a master's degree and a small 1.9% a doctoral degree.
The demand for nurses with higher education for advanced practices, clinical specialties, research roles, and teaching outstrips the supply.
Another notable change in the nursing profession is that nurses now have a broad scope of duties. Modern nursing is defined as a mix of knowledge, judgment, and skill. Today, nurse practitioners can offer many of the same services as physicians. And to satisfy current demand, nurses are choosing to receive additional training.
Advanced nurses are even pushing for more autonomy, especially in communities that lack physicians. Along with expanding opportunities for nurses, one goal that the World Health Organization (WHO) has is to get them into policymaking positions.
A precedent to that build-up happened in 2017 when the WHO established its first chief nursing officer position.
Job Availability and Future of Nursing
Health care jobs, despite automation and specialist demand, will stay in high demand for the next decade. In addition, women hold jobs in areas that are predicted to grow, like registered nurses. This positions them better for a more "automated future," accounting for 58% of net job growth by 2030.
According to a recent U.S. News and World Report list, among the 25 highest paying jobs in Healthcare four are nursing positions. The positions include:
This position is #4 on the list. Nurse practitioners perform similar duties as physicians. They perform physical exams, order lab tests, analyze results and prescribe medicines. The recommended education for this position is a Master's, and the median salary is $107,030.
Following up on position #9 is the registered nurse. These professionals have wider, less specialized responsibilities. But they're duties are crucial for preventive care. They monitor a patient's condition, perform medical procedures, and chart a patient's progress. The recommended education for this position is a Bachelor's. Registered nurses earn a median salary of $71,730.
This position is #15 on the list. A nurse anesthetist is considered an advanced practice registered nurse who works with patients regarding anesthetic treatment before, during, and after surgery. They also supervise therapy and medical procedures that use anesthesia. The recommended education for this position is a Master's. Nurse anesthetists earn a median salary of $167,950.
Coming up on #23 is the position of nurse-midwife. These nurses assist women during childbirth. They also offer reproductive care and numerous gynecological and family planning services. Nurse-midwives can also work as primary care providers for women and infants. The recommended education for this position is a Master's, and the median salary is $103,770.
Now, if you're wondering what other forecasts you should consider about nursing in the future, we provide you an overview.
- Nurse salaries are projected to rise.
- As the competition among hospitals rises, they will offer more bonuses. This means that due to the shortage of nurses, hospitals are hiring nurses quickly and offering bonuses.
- More states are introducing staffing ratios. The law mandates a nurse-to-patient ratio. Experts believe that the approach increases employment and lowers nurse illness, injuries, and burnout.
- Although 2020 is the Year of the Nurse, there is still more push for fair pay and working hours worldwide.
What's Next for the Future of Nursing?
As the nursing profession becomes ubiquitous in the healthcare field, so will specific job titles. Despite technology trends and the need for more specialization, the traditional role of the nurse will never be overshadowed by such factors. Today's nurses have the potential to establish important advancements in the U.S. health care system.
The future of nursing relies on academic progress, as well as engagement. If you're a registered nurse or are interested in seeking that professional path, it's time to consider your options. Advance your career and change your life by joining us today.