Nursing is one of the most solid career options out there right now—demand is steady, and there will always be evergreen elements of the career, like direct patient care. But how nurses provide that care is changing with the times, as qualified medical professionals are in ever-higher demand. Here are some recent trends in nursing that show how the career is evolving.
Nurses as primary care professionals
Right now there’s a significant shortage of primary care physicians—and with an ever-growing pool of patients, that means nurses are often stepping into that void to help make sure patients are receiving the care they need. Nurse practitioners are the professionals who have more leeway in prescribing medicine and fulfilling duties that are normally handled by physicians or physician assistants.
If the prospect of stepping into this role interest you, you're in luck—the demand for nurse practitioners is expected to grow by 19% by 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Nurses in outpatient facilities
With hospitals under pressure to get patients back out the door and more and more healthcare system demands from an aging Baby Boomer population, outpatient clinics and offices are handling more and more of the healthcare load. And this increased demand means more job opportunities for nurses as well. Jobs that take nurses out of the traditional hospital or physician’s office setting are on the rise and offer options for nurses looking to practice in different types of facilities.
Nurses and new technology
In virtually every field, technology is revolutionizing the way we do our jobs, and nursing is no exception. Electronic health records (EHR) systems have become the norm, making updated patient data accessible instantly. And non-invasive diagnostic tools have started taking hold as well, changing how nurses interact with patients. Nurses need to be tech-savvy, from the latest medical technology to mobile phone apps that can help them organize their schedules and coordinate patient care.
Technology is also becoming a major factor in the nursing classroom, with nurses learning how to perform complex tasks or handle high-pressure situations through using simulators. These tools let nurses get a sense of what face-to-face patient care is like, even before a nurse starts seeing actual patients.
Nurses and diversity
For a long time, the stereotypical nurse was female, but the field is growing and changing, with more male nurses than ever stepping into scrubs. According to a study done by the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1970, only 2.7 percent of registered nurses were men. In 2011, this number increased to 9.6 percent. In addition, areas of nursing with huge gender disparities, like neonatal nursing, are increasingly seeing more men entering the field. Diversity in general is growing for nurses, making it a career choice for people from all different backgrounds.
If you’re thinking about entering the nursing field, you’re doing it at a very exciting time—with a lot of change on the horizon. The more willing you are to embrace these new trends, the better suited you’ll be for your career in healthcare.