2014 Trends for the Future of Nursing

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( BLS), the nursing field is expected to grow at a 26 percent faster than the average profession clip by 2020, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs each year and over 700,000 new positions by 2020. Yes, the nursing field is exploding – and it certainly helps that the average RN makes about $64,000 per year.

Growth in the nursing career field is one trend that’s not expected to go away anytime in the near future for nurses. With that being said, there are other trends that are likely to impact nursing down the road – some are tied to the career growth itself, while others are tied to legislation, advances in medicine and other factors.

Here’s a look at the future for nursing:

Competition

While the nursing field is projected to grow rapidly by 2020 due to nursing staff shortages, there is still a lot of competition in the field. It’s supply and demand – there’s demand for nursing professionals so there will unquestionably be an increase in the number of students who attend nursing school. This can have a variety of both positive and negative drawbacks on the nurses of tomorrow. On the positive side, the competition will ensure that only the best are accepted into nursing programs and hired by hospitals, benefiting the quality of nursing care on a whole. The negative, of course, is that not everyone who wants to become a nurse will be able to do so due to the increased competition.

Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act is the initiative to make health care coverage available to all, could have a significant effect on the future of providers, not just nursing, but healthcare in general. However, it remains to be seen if it will be fully implemented, let alone what type of effect it will have on the nursing profession as a whole. Until it is intact, everything regarding its impact is just speculation.

Diversity

America is known as a melting pot of sorts, but diversity, in the United states, is rapidly expanding. This is already leading to many language speaking difficulties for patients and nurses, which can be detrimental if anything is lost in translation. What does the future entail for this problem? It’s hard to say – perhaps nurses will have to take a foreign language class in college in order to better communicate with their patients? Or perhaps hospitals will keep translators on staff.

Technology

Society is currently experiencing a technological boom. Innovation might be the highest its ever been in history, and new gadgets and technologies are being developed at breakneck speeds. While this is unquestionably a benefit to the nursing field, it’s also challenging because nurses and doctor’s have to know how to properly use the new tools they’re provided. This opens up the door for more training and better communication within a staff.

Alternative Care

There’s always more than one way to do something and we’ve seen a rise in alternative medicine and alternative care which attests to this fact. While it’s not necessarily always a bad thing to have options, generally speaking, there’s been a separation of the opinions and practices conducted in hospitals and traditional doctors’ offices and alternative care facilities. Alternative care is a promising field, but it also has its drawbacks.

Research

Just like with technological advancements, medical research is currently being conducted at breakneck speeds. Genetic research, cloning, cancer research, and more are all likely to come to fruition in the near future, opening the door for better care and an increased number of treatment options. So aside from working in hospitals, doctors offices and other more traditional healthcare settings, nurses are working on research teams at universities, research centers, and health related corporations and organizations.

As we already noted in the opening, the nursing field is currently experiencing a shortage of qualified personnel. As health care continues to move forward, the number of nurses in the workforce will not be enough to keep up with the pace. There’s opportunity in nursing – and there will still be 10, 15 and 20 years from now, even as the competition heats up. But don’t think that the nursing profession won’t experience its fair share of challenges in the future.