South Florida Hospital News
Thursday May 24, 2018
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May 2018 - Volume 14 - Issue 11

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Nursing Trends, Challenges and Opportunities

A career in nursing continues to be one of today’s most promising careers paths. A newly graduated nurse is in high demand and has the ability to branch out into numerous specialties, such as pediatrics, maternity, psychiatry, oncology, case management or primary care. But with all of the available opportunities within the nursing field, there’s an ongoing trend of new nurses moving away from the bedside.

Bedside nurses face difficult, labor-intensive work and a growing number of caregivers are dealing with burnout due to long hours, understaffing and lack of work-life balance, among other factors. Technology has also had an impact on how nurses deliver care. For example, the transition from a paper-based medical record system to the use of electronic health record (EHR) leaves caregivers juggling between nursing the computer and nursing the patient, adding to the many tasks caregivers must complete during a shift.
 
When it comes to patient care, the nurse at the bedside is a key person for all stakeholders. Everyone, including the physician, family members and support staff, depends on the nurse to administer meds, care for the patient, answer questions and coordinate care - but who is there for the nurse? For these reasons and more, a growing number of highly skilled, experienced nurses are leaving the bedside.
 
To compound the problem, we also have an aging workforce; nurses who have been working at the bedside for 30 years or more are getting ready to retire and when they leave, they will take decades of knowledge and expertise with them. We also don’t have enough people going into the nursing field and, with a growing patient population, the nursing shortage continues to be a concern. According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), by 2022 there will be far more registered nurse jobs available than any other profession, at more than 100,000 per year. With more than 500,000 seasoned RNs anticipated to retire by 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for 1.1 million new RNs for expansion and replacement of retirees, and to avoid a nursing shortage.
 
Despite these challenges, there are ways that healthcare organizations can ensure nurses are empowered, engaged and motivated to stay. First, we must make bedside nursing attractive. How? We must value these caregivers for they are truly our front-line staff. Bedside nursing is at the very heart of patient care and the amount of experience these caregivers have can directly impact patient outcomes. We must always remember our mission as caregivers, tying everything we do back to the patient in the bed. Bedside nurses are critical to that mission.
 
Second, we must involve nurses in the decision-making process. Front-line staff has valuable insight regarding the challenges nurses face, as well as operational processes and care delivery. We must give nurses a voice when it comes to making decisions that impact their role and responsibilities.
 
Finally, we must strengthen the pipeline of nurses entering the profession and that means recruiting students when they’re young, starting at the middle school level. Capture the minds of young, promising kids about the myriad opportunities available within the nursing profession. Nurse leaders must build stronger relationships with our community’s schools by joining their boards and being a part of their strategic plans.
 
Let’s invest in our nurses, show them how much we value them and encourage them to stay within our organizations. After all, nurses are a critical part of the patient experience.

Carolyn Carter, Chief Nursing Officer at Broward Health Coral Springs, can be reached at clcarter@BrowardHealth.org or (954) 344-3122.

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