Like all other aspects of healthcare, the nursing profession is constantly evolving. With the adoption of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the focus of healthcare has shifted from treatment to prevention. As these shifts continue, nurses must be prepared to shoulder more responsibility and take more active roles in patient care. The nursing profession continues evolving in many ways that will allow nurses to do this.
More Stringent Education Requirements
Nursing has always required a high education level. Now, the requirements to enter most nursing programs are much more stringent than in the past. Many graduating nurses now find their associate’s programs aren’t enough to get them competitive nursing jobs. Hospitals now seek nurses with bachelor’s and other advanced degrees. Research from the Institute of Medicine, an independent advisory group, shows that 80% of nurses will be required to have at least bachelor’s degrees by 2020.
Evolving Nursing Roles
Nursing is a popular profession because it allows each nurse to work in different environments and serve various populations throughout his or her career. These roles are evolving as the face of healthcare changes. More nurses are now asked to serve poor or underserved populations in the U.S. and abroad. Infectious disease control is a bigger concern than in the past, as is community care. Today’s nurses will be expected to serve larger populations with more diverse needs. While they can still specialize in one area of care, those specializations may be needed less as healthcare continues progressing.
Increased Focus on Health Equity
Modern medicine makes so many diseases preventable that healthcare is now focused on prevention and health equity. That is, today’s doctors and nurses seek to ensure each patient has a good quality of life, and that disparities like socioeconomic status do not influence care levels. Nursing education now focuses more on quality of life and meeting each patient’s individual needs as well as possible. Nurses are not only taught how to prevent disease, but how to create disease- and injury-free environments for patients of all ages, needs, and backgrounds