As the health care system evolves to meet new needs, nurses are playing expanded roles. Emerging issues including an aging population with chronic illnesses and changing technological standards means that nurses have to take on new duties. Emerging fields like genomics, genetics, informatics and telehealth requires nurses to develop new skills and competencies. To learn more about these new skills, checkout this infographic below created by the University of San Francisco’s Online Master of Science in Nursing program.
Aging Population Means Changes for Nurses
More people are dying at a much older age. In 2010, 8% of the global population was aged 65+. By 2050, people aged 65+ will make up 16% of the world’s population.
People are living longer worldwide than was the case two decades ago. Between 2010 and 2050, it is projected that the population of people aged 85 and over will increase by 351% while that of people aged 65 and over will increase by 188%. Within that time, there will only be a 22% increase for the under 65 population.
With increasing age, the cause of death and the profile of chronic disease will change. 4 out of 5 older American citizens have multiple chronic medical conditions. In fact, 60% of people aged 67+ have three or more chronic illnesses.
An aging population combined with increase in chronic conditions will necessitate nurses to give home-based care instead of hospital-based care. Because of more elderly people suffering from degenerative neurological conditions, nurses will have to be skilled in advance care planning, holistic assessment and communication.
High Tech Tools for Tomorrow’s Nurses
Major changes in healthcare technologies means new responsibilities for nurses. Tomorrow’s nurses will be expected to know and use several technologies including:
- Electronic Health Records (EHRs) Electronic health records stop medical practitioners from having to chase papers around. It makes it easy to find lab reports, charts and other crucial documents. With EHRs, multiple providers can access critical patient information. This facilitates better-coordinated care. Despite EHR benefits, only 10%-30% of U.S. physicians use them today.
- Computerized Physician/Provider Order Entry (CPOE) 55% decrease in medication errors will result from improving CPOE. Adoption of CPOE by hospitals has risen by 167% between 2008 and 2012. Nurses proficient in CPOE could improve the health care experience of patients, reduce medical error and reduce preventable injuries.
- 3D Printing In the future, 3D printing will be used for bioprinting vital organs for transplant. Medical practitioners who know how to use a 3-D printer can make customized casts for dental fixtures, hearing aids, broken arms and artificial limbs
Genomics and Nursing Practice In Future
Tomorrow’s nurse will be expected to able to be genomically competent by being able to translate genomic information to patient care. Results from genetic testing will be used to guide and counsel patients. Nurses will have to educate patients about the relevance of genomics.
Nursing Shortage Is Creating Demand
8.5% vacancy rate in nursing job openings has been reported by the American Hospital Association. Hospitals have 17% vacancy rate for nurses. 20% of the population in half of U.S. states is living in a primary care Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).
Education for Tomorrow’s Nurse
According to studies, hospitals with lower mortality rates have direct care RNs who are university graduates. Therefore, nurses might be required to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree (BSN) in the future.
Only 55% of the Registered Nurses workforce holds a nursing degree or higher. The Institute of Medicine has targeted that by 2020, at least 80% of RNs should hold a bachelors or higher. 78.6% of hospitals have a strong preference for BSN graduates. In 43.7 of health care facilities, a bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement for a nursing job.
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) offers advanced clinical roles and career advancement. The demand for nurses with MSN or doctoral degrees outstrips the supply. These nurses are demanded for clinical specialties, advanced practice, research and teaching roles.
90% of MSN graduates usually get full-time employment, 4-6 months after graduation. Only 13.2% of registered nurses in the U.S. hold either a doctoral or master’s degree.
Nursing Job Prospects
Job prospects for nurses are good. Nursing profession has among the lowest unemployment rates in the USA. Between 2012 and 2022, it is projected that 1.13 million RNs will be needed for replacements and new jobs.
At the time of graduation, 67% of MSN graduates have already received a job offer. A holder of masters in nursing should expect to earn more than $109,000 in a year. Average salaries for nurse practitioners and registered nurses are $95,070 and 68,910 respectively.
In the past, nurses were viewed as subservient and subordinate professionals. Today’s nurse is an essential partner in interdisciplinary health care teams. Tomorrow’s nurse will be required to assume new responsibilities due to new trends in medicine and new technologies. The next generation of nurses has to be genomically competent, tech savvy and possess at least a bachelor degree in nursing (BSN).