Top 3 Challenges for Nurses and Allied Healthcare Professionals

1. An aging population that is also more chronically ill

By 2030, 20 percent of the American population will be 65 years or older and more diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, and other cultural and socioeconomic factors. They will also have more chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, rather than needing acute care.

2. A shortage of nurses

Even as the number of registered nurses (RNs) in the United States has grown, the gap between workforce supply and demand has continued to widen. Nursing students can take several paths to become RNs, and some debate exists about entry-level credentials, and whether they are stringent enough, or too stringent. A fine balance between appropriately skilled staff and patient-centered care needs to be met.

3. The need to keep up with fast-changing environments

Use of healthcare information technology (IT) is on the rise, and not expected to slow any time in the near future. Changes in medical knowledge and technology are accelerating. Nurses, EMS personnel, and physical/occupational therapists will be expected to develop effective ways of dealing with the influx of new information, concepts, and skills.

How to address them through education:

1. As patient needs become more complex, environments will have to focus on community and public health and geriatrics. Nurses and nurse administrators will have to develop skills in leadership, health policy, teamwork and collaboration. School faculty will be required to enhance their curriculum by helping student develop task-based proficiencies, decision making skills, quality improvement, and leadership.

2. While financial pressures will make organizations increase efficiency, one of the things many hospitals, long-term care homes, and other healthcare organizations may do is focus on hiring more highly educated nurses, such as BSNs and MSNs. Achieving a more educated workforce will require updating educational models to accommodate RN-to-BSN/MSN programs.

3. Expand the use of simulation in education to reinforce specific skills, such as inserting an I.V., charting patient information, and performing other tasks that can be practiced in simulation labs. Key skills that will be needed include:

  • Teamwork between paraprofessionals and other clinicians
  • Patient-centered care orientation
  • Data management and analysis
  • Care for chronically ill and disabled patients
  • Accommodations for cultural and religious diversity

Additionally, future employees need to provide clear requirements to educational programs regarding preparations for graduates.

Sources:
1. The Future of Nursing: Report Brief
2. Addressing New Challenges Facing Nursing Education: Solutions for a Transforming Healthcare Environment, NACNEP [PDF]

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