Being ready for the future of nursing means understanding evolving issues and trends affecting the profession. Emerging technologies and the demographic impact of an aging population are driving many of the nursing changes that we are seeing in 2019.
Specialization and Education
As the average age of our population rises, it is driving many changes—chief among them is the growing demand for specialization and advanced practice nursing. This trend will drive increased levels of education for nurses. Nursing Education magazine estimates that the percentage of nurses with BSNs will increase from 50% to 80% by 2020 and the number of nurses with doctoral degrees could double by 2020. Also, many state boards are looking to increase the number of BSN-prepared nurses.
Innovative Technologies Are Changing Healthcare and Nursing Practice
Some of the most significant changes in digital healthcare (and healthcare overall) occurred in 2018 and will drive changes in healthcare and drive changing trends and issues in nursing for decades to come. The Amazon-JP Morgan-Berkshire Hathaway deal to disrupt workplace healthcare, as well as other digital health deals, will be impacting healthcare in both foreseeable and unforeseeable ways and will certainly have an impact on every aspect of the healthcare delivery system, including nursing.
Another of the trends in nursing is the growth in job options for the profession. Large employers are looking at ways to reduce their healthcare costs and improve outcomes, which is creating a need for more community-based care and care coordination. Nurses are working for Fortune 500 companies to coordinate care, drive improvements in outcomes, and reduce costs. Increasingly, large companies are demanding more for their healthcare dollars and are relying on nurses to improve that performance.
The Number of Nursing Jobs Will Increase
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth in nursing jobs will outpace job growth in other industry segments. They estimate that there will be a 15% growth in the number of nursing jobs between 2016 and 2026. This statistic combined with information on the existing shortages means healthcare organizations will need to continue to refine recruitment and retention efforts.
While hardly new, shortages (combined with the increase in the overall number of nursing jobs) continue to lead the issues and trends in nursing and may be intensifying as our population ages. It also makes the retention of new nurses mission critical for a majority of healthcare organizations. Understanding key drivers of retention for your organization is essential. Helping nurses understand what the organization is doing to meet retention objectives is key, too. The state of permanent shortage likely will influence the size of hiring bonuses and other hiring incentives.
The evidence that there is a relationship between nurse satisfaction and engagement and better outcomes is well documented and continues to grow. Reducing the number of long shifts, providing flexible work schedules, and reducing mandatory overtime are key strategies being used by healthcare organizations to improve retention. Self-governance and data-driven staffing are also being studied to determine their impact on retention.
The good news is that, along with the rest of the population, nurses are living longer too and are retiring somewhat later than they have historically.
Recruitment and Retention
Many of the 2019 trends will require that healthcare organizations be laser-focused on great recruitment and retention strategies. Chief among the issues that nurse leaders will need to remember are the needs of a new generation of nurses. Successful recruiting messages and recruitment strategies will need to address work-life balance, flexible work schedules, meaningful work, engagement and recognition.
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