There have been many changes within the nursing industry over the years. Many of them can be attributed to the increasing cost of healthcare within the United States, and the declining population of nurse educators. At one point, there would have been a lot of schools offering the nursing program to prospective students, however this has changed significantly over the years. There are three main reasons why this has happened:

First, the cost of funding a school has increased by 3% over the last 4 years, making it harder to maintain a program. Secondly, this increase has led to an increase in tuition fees; lowering the number of students who enroll into a program. The fewer students there are, the less money being made by these schools. Third, the health industry has changed significantly because of stricter policies being that are being implemented by the government. In the news, we have heard stories of unfit nurses putting the patients’ lives at risk because they are NOT educated on the right protocol, etc. With that being said,

I would like to explore the top 10 nursing trends currently taking place in the industry.

1. Increase in Online Education

One of the biggest changes we have seen in the nursing industry is how we engage and educate our future nurses. The Internet has changed the way that people interact, and this has allowed for huge advancements in online education. I mentioned how increasing costs were making it hard for prospective students to enroll into a program; however online education is starting to change this over time. With online classrooms, you no longer need actual class locations to teach students, because everything can be done from within the comfort of your own home. This growth has forced developers to create online classroom software, which allows people to connect more easily.

Online nursing education is still very new and requires supervision because of the sensitivity of the industry. One major problem right now is getting experienced teachers to opt into the online program, since many are more accustomed to teaching within an actual classroom. However, there is no doubt in my mind that soon this will be a hurdle that will be overcome.

2. Shortage of Experienced Nurses

This is one of the biggest issues and trends in nursing because there are fewer schools, but more people wanting to get into the industry. So, if you can find a way to educate them all, there will be more than enough nurses, who overtime, will become highly experienced, and this will become an asset to the hospitals where they work. Either way, here are some of the challenges we face in relation to having fewer experienced nurses:

First, it was expected that the industry would grow by 19% from 2012 to 2022.  However, it failed to grow because of the poor economic conditions within the United States. The nurses who were close to retirement have decided to stick around because they refuse to leave during hard economic conditions. Leaving during this time would mean lower retirement packages and benefits, so it served them better to stay on board. Secondly, newer students entering the industry would have filled the jobs that would have opened after these older nurses left. This meant, now there are less new people entering the nursing industry, slowing down the amount of experience that they can gain overtime.  Once the new wave of nurses join the industry, they will have less experience and less knowledgeable nurses to train them.

3. Nurses Practice a Wider Scope

There is also a shortage of primary care physicians.  This is forcing our nurses to take on a wider scope of practice in the industry. Nurses have to take on more responsibilities in order to balance the shortage of medical physicians. Insurance companies are also benefiting, because allowing nurse practitioners to write prescriptions, will save insurers enormous amounts of money. How? The billing rate for people seeing a doctor is much higher than if they are getting a prescription from a licensed nurse.

However, the problem is that even though many health institutions support this change, there are still several legal barriers that must be crossed before it is fully implemented.

4. Gender Pay Gap is Narrowing

In the healthcare profession, there have been several attempts to tighten the pay gap between men and women. Finally, we are beginning to see the gap tighten with much of this having to do with changes in law, and the overall experience of women. In 2000, women made $48,000 less than men in the profession, however now the difference is roughly $8,000 in salary.

5. More Diversity

Here are some cool statistics that will help illustrate this point better. Out of roughly 3.5 million nurses in the profession in 2011, nearly 330,000 were men. This means that 1 in 10 nurses were men.  However, this number now is becoming narrower. Even though this number seems small, if you compare it to the numbers in 1980, the total number of male nurses was even smaller. Since then, the increase has been 660% over the last 30 years.

The increase can be attributed to the healthcare’s mission to recruit more men into the industry to create higher rate of diversity.

6. The Ethical Code

Over the last 5 years, we have seen a huge change in the nurse’s ethical code. Three reasons why this code has changed so dramatically is because of technology, diversity and new payment models. For example, with new technology, you’ll have to ensure that guidelines are followed correctly. You want to ensure that technology does not interfere with the ethics in place for nurses. Diversity in families means you have people in the healthcare system, who follow different religions. The work environment must be tweaked, so not to interfere with the religious values of workers and patients. The payment model for health insurance and increasing costs, have left the health care sector, to find affordable solutions to common problems.

7. More Focus on Prevention

Another big change in nursing trends is greater focus on prevention. With the increasing costs of healthcare, and the scare of decreasing nursing employment, it’s important to find other ways to solve the health care problem. One way is to focus on prevention, so people don’t find themselves requiring advanced health care solutions. One trend is to fund educational classes around the subject of prevention, hoping that people will take a proactive role when it comes to their personal health. More focus is given on eating well, protection and exercise.

8. Collaboration in the Workforce

One way to tackle the problem of inexperience is to have professionals working together more often. Many hospitals are adopting a mentorship program where nursing and other healthcare professionals will work together on solving healthcare problems. Having different departments in the healthcare profession working together, will give them experience in different areas, widening the responsibilities they can take on. Not only that, but having professionals working together has led to greater communication, allowing them to effectively come up with better solutions.

9. Focus on Technological Skills

If you look back 30 years, much of the nursing industry was all manual. For example, everything was written down on a piece of paper, and you would have to wait days to get reports from one department to another. In the 1980s, much of the reporting wasn’t interconnected, because there was NO way to input data into computers. However, now we have computers everywhere, which has made medical reporting easier. For example, typing data into one machine would sync it into every other computer. This practice has made it easier for professionals to share information, making things more efficient. However, with this advancement comes the need for a completely different skill set.

All nurses and health care professionals need basic computer skills when applying for any type of job. They must be able to input data and know how to operate a computer desktop PC.

10. More Topics on CNA Exam

That’s right! As the industry starts to change, the examination now requires prospective students to study more areas of medicine and healthcare, before writing the CNA exam. For example, 5-10 years ago, you would have only been tested on general knowledge, and then you would head into a clinical trial within the health care environment. However, now the CNA exam focuses on other aspects, such as communication, the legal aspect of the industry, emotional health needs, and ethics. These areas are on the exam, and will be a part of your overall score.

Go through our free CNA questions and answers, which will help you get familiar with the type of questions to expect.

Final Thoughts

These are the current trends in nursing for 2016, and next year you’ll probably see more trends taking shape.

When I was doing some research, I found resources on the nursing industry from 30 years ago. I’m shocked at how much the industry has been changing throughout the years. However, the change has been for the better, protecting not only the healthcare professionals, but the patients as well. As you have read in the content, much of the change has been based around technological advances, education, and industry collaboration.

I am impressed with how much the nursing industry has changed over the past few decades, and for nursing assistants that means a few things.  BE PREPARED.  Know your material, study and be at the top of your game.  Make the effort to understand various aspects of the medical field since there is a crossover between what you will be facing on a daily basis and what nurses and doctors do with your patients.  Advance yourself technologically.  Be prepared to operate machines, computers and to create electronic medical reports.  This is a great field to get into.  It can be demanding at times but the satisfaction is rewarding in itself.  Times are changing and so is the profession.  We’re here to help you every step of the way.

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