Six Ways Nursing Roles and Expectations Are Changing

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

This blog post is taken from a Select International white paper, The Nursing Shortage and Changing Responsibilities: Are You Prepared?, by Bryan Warren.

Even though the current job market for nurses is great, we are approaching a situation that may be very scary for healthcare organizations. Nurses are at the heart of everything that happens in healthcare and spend the greatest amount of time delivering direct care to patients. However, the industry is approaching a dilemma that “the supply of qualified nurses cannot meet the projected demand.” More importantly, just increasing the number of nurses isn’t going to be a solution. Healthcare is changing, and we are going to need nurses who can play different roles and have different skillsets. As Warren shares, “There are specific growth areas, and the needs reflect a changing care delivery system and focus. Nursing skills, expectations, and roles are evolving rapidly.” Here are six ways that expectations for nurses are changing:

  1. Technical skills for nurses can’t help but grow in importance. Warren offers that “Technology will continue to play a bigger role in providing care.”
  2. As healthcare transitions to settings outside the hospital, so will the numbers of nurses increase who are working across the care continuum. Warren shares that “Most of the growth will NOT be in traditional hospital-based positions.” And this will play out for a number of years, such that “over the next decade, hospital employment is projected to be the slowest area of growth.” There’s little doubt that “Nurses will play a much bigger role in non-hospital settings, ambulatory care, preventative medicine, in the community, and in the home – including assisted living and rehab centers.
  3. Specialized care setting experience and skillsets, especially for treating chronic disease will continue to grow in demand. Warren tells us that “The greatest demand will be in the areas of chronic disease management, geriatrics, palliative, and hospice care.” These patients are the people with the greatest healthcare needs and the source of our greatest cost. “According to the Centers for Disease Control, chronic disease is now responsible for 7 of 10 deaths and 86% of the nation’s healthcare costs.”
  4. Care coordination is going to become the focus of many nursing jobs. According to Warren, responsibilities for this function will increase—not just providing care bedside, but making sure patient’s needs are met, ensuring the right care is delivered to the patient and family, and that they are fully engaged in their recovery.” Everywhere in the healthcare industry, we will “need more nurses who specialize in data analysis, communication, and health system navigation.”
  5. Working with other disciplines and professionals in the healthcare area has to increase. Warren tells nurses to prepare for careers centered on “’Multi-disciplinary care’—once a progressive concept, [that] will become the norm.” It won’t just be about providing better care and creating better outcomes, “but that money and resources are used as efficiently as possible.”
  6. What made for a good nurse in terms of working style and behavior in the past won’t necessarily be the same as in the future. Warren points out that “new roles and expectations mean that behavioral skills, including emotional intelligence and communication, are more important than ever.”

Link to the full white paper here. Learn more about HealthStream solutions for Talent Management.