Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Future of Nursing and How to Get There

With the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 came a complete transformation of America's healthcare system, from the way care is administered to the standards healthcare providers adhere to. Nursing, an integral part of any healthcare system, has been tremendously affected by the ACA and now more than ever, highly-skilled and qualified nurses are needed to answer the call. The future of nursing depends on a few factors, and educating tomorrow's nurses is at the forefront of concerns.

The need for highly educated nurses has gone largely unnoticed, but it will become a much more visible issue in the coming years. 20% of America's population will be over the age of 65 in the year 2030, and care for chronic conditions will be in high demand. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mental health illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer's are on the rise, and educated nurses make all the difference in providing critical care. This means a change in education is absolutely crucial, seeing as 20th century nursing education focused primarily on treating injuries and illnesses, not chronic conditions.

Improving the system that churns out future nurses seems like a no-brainer, but it hasn't been. By focusing more on community settings like those found in long term care, future nurses are better prepared for the care settings they are more likely to deal with in the near future. Teaching good decision making, quality improvement methods, a systemic way of thinking, and team leadership is crucial for proper nursing education in the 21st century. Increasing the number of nurses with BSN's (Bachelors degrees) is very feasible and very critical to the growth of the field of nursing. RN-to-BSN programs, traditional 4-year programs, educational collaborative programs, distance and online learning, and other partnerships have made a nursing degree more accessible. 

The future of the field of nursing depends so much on the education of and advocacy for future nurses. Tell someone you love or know to consider it as a career option, and help that change the world for the better. 

(We just thought this was funny)

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