Future of Nursing: Trends in a Demanding Industry

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A nurse uses a tablet to gather information from her patient in a hospital bed.
Health care is a constantly evolving concept. This is arguably no more evident than in the field of nursing, where medical advances, government-mandated regulations, and technological innovation combine to change the look and feel of patient care. For advanced practice nurses, such as those equipped with a post-master’s certificate, the ability to guide others through these evolutionary processes is critical, especially as the health care industry braces for an impending shortage of qualified nursing leaders. The first step in keeping up with this changing field is understanding what trends are likely to shape the future of nursing.

What the Nursing Shortage Means for Nurses

A projected shortage of nurses is poised to hit all levels of the industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 15% job growth for registered nurses (RNs) and 31% job growth for nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists between 2016 and 2026. Both percentages are significantly higher than the 7% growth projected for the average profession. The primary reason for such rapid growth is the aging of baby boomers — a generation turning 65 in totality by 2029. Their presence promises to create an unprecedented number of older patients in need of care.

With an advanced degree in nursing, nurses can leverage their skills to become leaders in their field as it evolves to meet the needs of this projected influx of patients. Effective leaders will embrace current and emerging trends in nursing, guiding the direction of care delivery to patients of all ages.

Trends Affecting the Future of Nursing

While the aging patient population is an important trend directly affecting the nursing industry, other trends are likewise shaping its future. These trends require nurses to have strong skills in areas beyond traditional nursing competencies, such as tech-driven knowledge.

Telehealth and Remote Nursing

Remote patient care via telephone has been around for decades. Yet the concept of telehealth has moved beyond the phone to incorporate a wide host of multimedia channels, including email, the internet, smartphone apps, and interactive videos. For instance, an email exchange between a patient and a nurse can concern the former’s symptoms and the latter’s recommendation based on patient history. These innovations will continue to transform telehealth into a sophisticated option for nursing care. Telehealth and remote nursing can also be an important collaborative tool to proactively help patients with self-care, without the need for scheduling an in-person visit.

Patient Data and Nursing Informatics

The prevalence of technology has changed the way nurses gather and share data. The use of electronic health records (EHRs), coupled with standardized nursing terminology, allows nurses to efficiently share patient data not only with patients but also with collaborative professionals such as physicians.

The advent of EHRs has also given rise to health informatics, a branch of nursing devoted to managing care-related data as it’s gathered and stored. Health informatics calls for nursing students to develop fundamental technology skills, which can include understanding how to incorporate tech-driven innovations into care strategies. Because technology is constantly advancing, optimal care delivery requires that nursing professionals keep abreast of industry innovations.

Artificial Intelligence and Automated Tasks in Nursing

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in health care doesn’t mean “robots taking over,” as the human touch of soft skills, such as compassion and empathy, will always be needed. Rather, AI is streamlining patient care delivery. AI-driven tech innovations — such as virtual nursing assistants that can deliver patient medication and automated diagnostic analysis based on computerized scans of a patient’s history — can help to minimize some of the stress related to the projected nursing shortage. AI applications can also provide assistance in other areas, such as cybersecurity and the management of payment-related data. This increased efficiency can make it easier for facilities to concentrate on delivering high-quality patient care.

Learn More

Health care is driven by change. Whether the change is in patient demographics or health care delivery, it’s important for nursing leaders to be aware of trends and how they can affect the future of nursing. This insight can allow them to make a positive impact on care delivery. Learn how Regis College’s post-master’s certificate program can allow nursing professionals to refine the skills needed to make an impact on the future.

Recommended Reading:
Climbing to the Top: A Look at Nurse Levels
How Many Nurses Are in the U.S.?
5 Ways to Earn a Better Nurse Practitioner Salary

Sources:
American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing, Telehealth Nursing Practice
American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Fact Sheet: Nursing Shortage
American Nurse Today, “Using Data in Nursing Practice”
Harvard Business Review, “10 Promising Applications in Health Care”
HIMSS, What Is Nursing Informatics?
NCBI, Nursing Shortage
The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, “Informatics: The Standardized Nursing Terminologies: A National Survey of Nurses’ Experiences and Attitudes – Survey I”
Regis College, Post-Master’s Certificates
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses
U.S. Census Bureau, “The Baby Boom Cohort in the United States: 2012 to 2060”