What’s ahead for nurses? The medical field is always changing, and by looking a few years into the future, you can continue to advance with it, raising your value to doctors and patients while you raise your earning potential. Whether you’re currently working as a nurse, an active nursing student, or just thinking about enrolling in nursing school, keeping up with nursing trends can help you make smart decisions about your future in the field.
Here are three of the major nursing trends to keep your eye on, according to a recent report from the National League of Nursing (NLN).
1. Changing Demographics and Diversity
By 2020, more than 20 percent of the American population is expected to be 65 or older; the fastest growing age group will be 85+. Even while advances in medicine are allowing people with chronic and acute illnesses to lead longer, more fulfilling lives, the increase in population needing medical care will challenge hospitals and healthcare facilities. Meanwhile, disparities in health and care between increasingly diverse sectors of the population is a growing problem.
Nursing students are also becoming more diverse, and even more mature as many professionals go back to school. How can you embrace cultural, ethnic and racial diversity in how you relate to your peers and your patients? The best nurses of tomorrow will embrace and seek to understand the people they work with, on every level.
2. Technological Advances
The technology revolution is well underway in hospitals and larger care facilities, and even smaller practices throughout the country have adopted electronic recordkeeping and other basic technologies. But there is much more to come. Advances in both medical and information technology, from biotech to nanotech to telecommunications, are poised to completely revolutionize how we provide care in the 21st century.
In the next several years, nursing students will have more and better opportunities for distance learning and online training, as well as exposure to more advanced laboratory technologies. Nurses who capitalize on these opportunities to become skilled and trained in the use of technology will be increasingly in demand. How can you be one of them?
3. The Nursing Shortage
Right now, more nursing students are graduating and receiving their licenses than at any time in the past. However, the demand for nurses still outpaces the supply, continuing an ongoing shortage that is affecting the medical field deeply. In the short term, this means higher pay rates and better job security and flexibility for nurses. But in the long term, it reveals a greater challenge: How can the nursing field successfully recruit and train enough nurses to fill the growing gap?
The NLN notes that, not only does nursing need a revitalized public image, but that there is a need for strong management and leadership, with strong training in communication, business management and finance. How can you develop your skills to point your career toward a position of leadership? Smart choices today can benefit you greatly tomorrow.