The field of medicine is in a constant state of evolution, and nurses are at the heart of these changes. Each year brings new ways in which medical professionals can improve on the quality of healthcare they provide and the environment it is provided in. 2016 will be no exception. As a nurse, you should be aware of what is in store for this coming new year, and what these changes could mean for your career.
A Focus on Continuing Education for Nurses and Bachelor Degrees
Back in 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report setting a goal for the nursing community. Based on a 2003 study which found that increasing the number of nurses on staff who held a BSN by 10% decreased the likelihood of patient fatalities by 5%, the IOM made it their objective to increase the number of nurses with a BSN from 50% to 80% by 2020. With their target date now only 4 years away, expect to see more of an emphasis on your educational background and degree if you are interested in advancing your career or looking for a new position.
The Ability to Receive a Quality Education
The push for more nurses, especially those with a degree, is being felt by online educators. As a result, you can expect to find even more programs available from your computer that offer a high-quality education for an affordable price and with flexible hours to avoid work schedule conflicts. This will make it even easier for a registered nurse to advance their knowledge and earn a degree without having to give up their current position.
The Effect of the Affordable Care Act
As the last parts of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act are being phased in, more people are now being able to access consistent health care. This opens up career opportunities in the field of nursing, not only in hospital and clinic settings, but also in preventive care facilities and doctor’s offices. Expect to see the demand for qualified nurses to continue to increase in 2016, especially for those who are BSN prepared.
A Decrease in On the Job Injuries for Nurses
Democratic Representative John Conyers of Michigan and Senator Al Franken of Minnesota have reintroduced the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act. This is a bill that – if approved – would eliminate manual lifting of patients by health care providers, including all registered nurses. Hospitals and other medical care facilities would instead have to implement modern technology and safety controls that aid in transporting patients as well as educate workers on their safe use and practice. Expect to see the number of back injury suffered by nurses around the country decrease dramatically if and when this bill is made law.
A Higher Demand for Nurses Who Specialize in Geriatric Care
Advances in medical technology and treatments have made adults over 85 the fastest growing segment of the population. Geriatrics is a specialized field that requires nurses with certain skills, not only in treating illness and injury, but in communicating with older adults and their family members. The need for these types of nurses will continue to be in high demand in 2016 and beyond as it is expected that 20% of the population will be over 65 in 2020.
A Continued Reliance on Technology and Portable Devices
For the last decade there has been a steady surge of new technology being introduced to nurses. This trend will continue in 2016, and you can expect to find more apps for your mobile phone to make your job easier, and an increase in the emphasis on telemedicine as the Affordable Care Act makes healthcare more accessible to those living in rural and underserved parts of the country.
The demand for nurses with advanced skills and knowledge is at a high, and will only continue to grow. This makes now the perfect time to either get started on a career in this rewarding field, or hone the skills you already have to use as leverage in advancing upwards. Keep up with the latest trends and learn how to use the newest tools and techniques, and you will be in a position to choose a work environment that you love working in.