Nursing is a dynamic profession that must continually adapt to new medical research, new technologies and new healthcare challenges. It is important for practicing nurses and those who aspire to become nurses to stay on top of the latest trends in the field. This allows nurses to better serve their patients and lead their fellow nurses in striving for clinical excellence.
Online Nursing Education
Remote education in BSN programs is an increasingly common option for students. It is thought that online continuing education will become increasingly more effective and commonplace. Nurses who currently hold an associate degree or a professional certificate can pursue their RN to BSN degree in an online program. Online education is also popular among nurses who wish to further enhance their professional qualifications with a master’s or doctoral degree.
Online nursing school benefits nurses because it is flexible, convenient and affordable. Nurses can continue to meet their obligations at work and in the home while studying to earn an advanced degree. Healthcare employers also benefit from online education, as their workforce gains refined clinical skills and broader knowledge to better serve patients.
Telehealth, also called telemedicine, is the use of telecommunication technology to enable clinical health services delivered remotely. In other words, patients can use an app, portal or other virtual device to access a healthcare provider from anywhere.
According to the American Hospital Association, about 76 percent of hospitals in the U.S. have contracted with telemedicine services.1 It is expected that telehealth services will continue to expand during 2020 due to rising demand among younger patients for greater convenience and flexibility in healthcare. Telehealth services are also critically important in rural areas, where patients may be located many miles away from the nearest healthcare clinic.
However, there are some challenges to overcome before telemedicine becomes more commonplace. For example, some rural areas lack sufficient broadband service to enable telehealth visits. Also, healthcare professionals must be licensed in each state in which they practice. This raises concerns about interstate health services. For example, a nurse located in Arizona and licensed to practice in that state would be required to obtain appropriate licensure to serve patients in any other state, such as California or New York. Some professional organizations are calling for greater cohesiveness in licensing on the federal level to overcome interstate challenges.
Nurse Navigator Positions
Increasingly, hospitals are choosing to hire nurse navigators. Nurse navigators have a dual role, providing nursing care and acting as case managers. They guide patients through the healthcare journey, from diagnosis and treatment to follow-up and beyond.
Nurse navigators are particularly helpful in reducing the hospital readmission rate (the rate at which discharged patients must be readmitted). To reduce readmissions, it is necessary to provide for a seamless transition of care from the hospital to the home. For example, nurse navigators can connect patients to needed community resources and provide family members with extensive education and support services that can help patients complete their recoveries at home. As a result, nurse navigators play an essential role in reducing overall healthcare costs in the U.S.
Concierge medicine is a model of healthcare that is relatively new in the U.S. Patients pay private, annual fees out of pocket to a small private practice. In exchange, they are guaranteed priority care for urgent medical issues and exceptionally high-quality service, including longer appointment times and more personalized attention.
Other opportunities for entrepreneurial nurses include businesses that offer home visits to busy or homebound patients. There are additional opportunities beyond providing direct patient care. For example, some nurses may set up their own consulting businesses, acting as quality management consultants for hospitals and nursing homes. And as information technology (IT) becomes increasingly important in healthcare organizations, some nurse entrepreneurs may set up their own nursing informatics businesses.
Higher Academic Attainment
In recent years, and increased number of nurses are pursuing advanced degrees. According to a 2019 report by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), 87.4 percent of employers in the United States have a strong preference for registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing.2 The primary reason for this is a link between higher levels of education among registered nurses and lower patient mortality, according to an article published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine.3 A stronger preference for higher education means that nurses are increasingly expected to enroll in advanced nursing programs and become experts in their specialization.
Higher Education Degrees Becoming Standard
The rate of nursing professionals has been increasing. The AACN reports that 17.1 percent of registered nurses held a master’s degree and 1.9 percent held a doctorate degree in 2018.4 The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates registered nursing careers to increase by 12 percent through 2028, and the rates of advanced degrees are expected to increase with it.5
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) notes that 34 states have adopted the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC), legislation which allows nurses to adopt a license that permits them to practice in eNLC states.6 Another more recent compact is the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Compact (APRN), which allows advanced practice nurses to obtain a similar multi-state license. Currently, three states have adopted APRN, which will not be implemented until ten states have adopted it.7
Increasing Demand for Elder Care
Demand for geriatric care has increased substantially with the rise in the average age in the United States. According to Healthdata.gov, about 12 percent of patients were over 65 years of age in 2018 compared to six percent in 2010.8 The Congressional Budget Office predicts that by 2050, as much as two percent of the non-elderly adult population may be needed to meet the demand for formal care of the elderly population.9 As a result of the increasing demand for geriatric care, the field of geriatric care is expected to increase substantially.
You can work through a modern, industry-aligned curriculum when you pursue your nursing degree at Grand Canyon University. Currently practicing RNs can earn an accredited RN to BSN degree. Those who already hold a bachelor’s degree can choose from one of our graduate specialization degrees, such as the Master of Science in Nursing with an Emphasis in Health Informatics or the Master of Science in Nursing with an Emphasis in Leadership in Health Care Systems. To learn more about the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions, click on the Request Info button at the top of your screen.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.