Some things about nursing care rarely change. Such as how nurses need a compassionate nature to provide care, and that the nursing profession was voted the most trusted profession 17 years running, but each year brings new trends related to nurses and nursing care. The year 2019 is no exception. Some trends have continued from previous years, while new ones have emerged.
Nursing Shortage Continues
The nursing shortage isn’t exclusive to 2019, and the need for recruiting and retaining nursing staff has remained in the forefront of the minds of many nursing leaders. In addition to the nursing shortage, increases in patients with chronic conditions, health care expectations of the aging baby boomer population, and an increased focus on preventative care, have contributed to the need for more nurses.
Safe Staffing Levels
Inadequate numbers of available nurses have also contributed to highlighting issues with the struggle to maintain safe staffing levels. Organizations unable to maintain adequate staffing levels may rely on staffing agencies and travel nurses to assist in providing relief to their current staff, or to offer coverage for nurse leave time.
The nursing shortage can also present unique opportunities for nurses as organizations consider new methods of recruiting nurses and maintaining staffing levels. With an abundance of positions available, and competition to acquire the best staff, some organizations are offering monetary sign-on bonuses, becoming more creative with flexible scheduling, providing tuition reimbursement, or working toward developing a more manageable work and life balance.
Specialists Are in Demand
An aging population, and hospitals shortening lengths of stay and discharging patients sooner, has increased the demand for long-term care nurses. These, and other nurse specialists, are in demand. Nursing specialty expertise is needed to care for more patients with increasingly complex needs.
Focus on Diversity
The patient population is becoming more diverse, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has provided more patients with health insurance than ever before. Diversity and cultural competence have been recognized as essential elements of good nursing practice. Bilingual nurses, and those deemed culturally competent, can help improve patient outcomes by focusing on each patient’s specific, individual needs.
More nurses are delaying retirement. This can result in up to four generations of nurses working together. A blended workforce can prove challenging with different generations with varied values and priorities. This can also be seen as an opportunity to learn from the strengths of coworkers from different generations.
Support for Self-Care
Increased administrative burdens, short-staff, and long shifts have contributed to nurse burnout. Nurse burnout, often referred to as being in a state of exhaustion and overwhelm at the workplace, has lead to more focus on self-care. Cultural shifts are occurring within many organizations that encourage recognizing the signs of burnout and implementing preventative care measures.
Advances in Technology
Whether it’s electronic health records (EHR), scheduling systems, or the manner in which we provide patient care, each year seems to bring about additional changes in technology. The need for nursing informatics officers, who have expertise in both nursing and information technology is growing as technology increases and artificial intelligence (AI) transforms the way patient care is diagnosed and provided. Some nurses may fear AI could replace nursing care, but it can be seen as assisting care. The human touch can’t be replaced and remains an essential part building patient relationships.
Patients have begun to expect the convenience of technology within their care. Virtual care is on the rise, appointments can be made online, reminders are received via text, and a chatbot can help to provide patient education and resources. Technological advances can help to increase patient engagement and allow them to play a larger role in self-care. This can be beneficial to reinforcing nursing education and working toward improving compliance.
The growth of value-based care has made an impact on the way nursing care is provided. Value-based care emphasizes rewarding providers for value over volume, holistic and preventative care, reducing costs, and more collaboration between healthcare providers. This has lead to nurses playing broader roles in outpatient and home-based care and nurses expanding their role in assisting patients with chronic diseases to manage their health.
Healthcare has continued to change with increased competition and changes in technology, but the nurses role in healthcare remains vital, if not even more so. This provides ample opportunities for nurses, especially those with experience and enthusiasm to embrace growth and change.
As more states began to permit use of a nurse compact license in 2018, this provided more nursing opportunities. Working as a travel nurse can assist nurses in growing their skills and offer more opportunities to make the most of their nursing career for this, and coming, years.