How Is the Workplace Changing for Nurses?

The nursing profession is transforming. Nurses in the workforce today do not only work in hospitals; they can practice nursing in a variety of healthcare settings. Furthermore, established nurses are under pressure to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN) by 2020. Other trends in nursing include evolving healthcare policy, the introduction of new technologies and an increasingly diverse and aging population.

Nursing Outside of the Hospital

Healthcare is moving out of hospitals and into community-based patient care. This means hospitals are starting to focus more on critically ill patients than others, partially for financial reasons. Medicare enforces strict contingencies for reimbursement by penalizing hospitals for poor patient satisfaction and the number of readmissions that occur within 30 days. Thus, hospitals are closing departments and sending patients to lower-cost facilities such as physicians’ offices, pain management clinics, dialysis centers and rehabilitation facilities.

Outpatient facilities and home healthcare services are increasing in popularity, as is telehealth, which is a method nurses use to deliver care and information over the computer or telephone. Patients discharged from hospitals who still need care are being sent to long-term acute care (LTAC) facilities. As a result of these trends in nursing, hospitals are concentrating on emergency, cardiac, traumatic injury and cancer care.

Educational Trends in Nursing

Studies show that nurses with a BSNs are better equipped to work in the fast-paced healthcare environment and typically produce positive outcomes for patients. The Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) reported on the BSN requirement for nurses. According to HANYS, “In New York 70% of hospitals in 2013 preferred hiring BSNs, compared with 46% in 2011.”

The 2014 Nursing and Allied Professionals Workforce Survey Report titled Healthcare Workforce: New Roles for a Changing Healthcare Delivery System includes the following key finding: “The percentage of nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree grew 6% from last year, with hospitals reporting that 57% of their registered nurses were Baccalaureate-prepared. The percentage of nurses with an Associate degree declined 6% from last year to a statewide average of 34%.”

It is crucial that nurses keep up with the constantly developing healthcare theories and research. They must stay current regarding new procedures, technologically advanced equipment and digital communication. Since nurses work with many highly educated healthcare professionals, they should earn the degrees they need to collaborate with colleagues in interdisciplinary practice.

Nursing and Technology

Nurses must be tech-savvy and adaptable to new procedures and technological advancements. Many of the current trends in nursing involve digital technology. Telenursing and remote patient monitoring allows nurses to provide patient care from anywhere. The implementation of electronic medical records (EMR) lets nurses access patient information at the point of care without leaving the patient.

New technology has created telecommuting opportunities for nurses. Nurses can now find jobs in remote case management, telephone triage and informatics consulting. To address technology in the nursing profession, colleges and universities are using simulators to expose nurses to real life medical cases. This prepares nurses for the decision-making and problem-solving they will face in nursing practice.

Aging Population and Diversity

Patient populations are older and more ethnically diverse than ever. A large portion of the baby boomer generation turned 65 in 2011. The aging population often suffers from chronic health conditions like diabetes, obesity, and kidney and heart disease so the need for more specialty-care nurses will increase.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), which became law in 2014, called for a closer relationship between care providers and patients. This translates to healthcare facilities hiring nurses from a diverse range of backgrounds and ethnicities.

Adapting to Changes in Healthcare

Nurses can adapt to changes in the workforce by furthering their nursing education. A commitment to learning prepares nurses to seek out the knowledge they need to strengthen their communication, critical thinking and technology skills. One of the most important aspects of a nurse’s job is communication with patients and other healthcare professionals.

No two patients or conditions are the same, and nurses need to rely on their education to provide the best care to each one. They must demonstrate the capability to execute fast and safe patient care in stressful settings. To do this, nurses should seek out mentors to help them cultivate expertise. Nurses can look for mentors at work or through nursing networks and professional organizations.

Nurses who want to work in hospitals may need to consider relocating, depending on job availability in their areas. Short-term assignments or limited contracts are another way nurses can enter a hospital workforce. As hospitals reduce services and staff, nurses can focus on other opportunities. They can search for employment at pediatric or geriatric care facilities, private homes, clinics or surgical rehabilitation centers. In addition, nurses should consider specializing in one of the following medical fields:

  • Obstetrics.
  • Cardiology.
  • Geriatrics.
  • Radiology.
  • Surgery.
  • Hospice.

The trends in nursing are streamlining healthcare so patients can receive the best treatment. To facilitate optimal patient care, nurses must collaborate with physicians, reduce waste, and maintain contact with patients after they are discharged. Technological competency and sensitivity to patients’ cultural backgrounds are critical components to successful patient care. Nurses are more involved with patient care than ever before, which is why there is a push for nurses to earn a BSN or graduate-level nursing education.

Learn more about the CSUSM online RN to BSN program.


Retrieved from 4 Health Care Trends That Will Affect American Nurses. (2015, November). American Nurses Association: 4 Health Care Trends That Will Affect American Nurses

Retrieved from Healthcare Workforce: New Roles for a Changing Healthcare Delivery System. (2014). Healthcare Association of New York: 2014 Nursing and Allied Professionals Workforce Survey Report: Healthcare Workforce: New Roles for a Changing Healthcare Delivery System

Retrieved from Page, L. (2015, January 28). Baby Boomers and Beyond: The Evolution of Nursing. Minority Nurse: Baby Boomers and Beyond: The Evolution of Nursing

Retrieved from Quinn-Szcesuil, J. (2015, October 27). Skills for Success: What Every New Nurse Needs. Minority Nurse: Skills for Success: What Every New Nurse Needs

Retrieved from Turner, J. (2016, March 1). The New Health Care Workplace. Minority Nurse: The New Health Care Workplace

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