There are several paths to a successful and satisfying career, but for the long term, the nursing profession will assuredly be abundant with opportunities for attaining both, as long as you have the proper skill sets. Warren Buffett, no stranger to success, has a daily mantra he follows. Every day, you are at the beginning and end of what you may achieve in life, but the best course of action is always “to invest in being the best person you can be”.
If you are truly a caregiver and want to make a meaningful contribution to your community, then the nursing profession is calling your name. If you want to be the best you can be, then now is the time to begin investing in developing the necessary skills to catapult you forward into this exciting world. Technical training is only part of the formula. Highly developed communication and interpersonal skills are also a necessity, as well as the ability to perform within a team setting, where adherence to strict rules and codes of behavior is standard protocol.
Whether you are considering nursing as a career, already performing at low-level entry positions, or desiring to enhance your capabilities going forward, there are ample online educational programs worthy of your time and effort. If you fall within any of these groups and time is an issue, you can pursue your goals at your own pace by taking advantage of fully online programs for enhancing your core competencies. An online second degree BSN program like the one offered at Elmhurst University is but one example of what is available in today’s virtual world.
If you already have a bachelor’s degree in another area of emphasis, there are second degree nursing programs that can enable you to launch your career in nursing in as little as sixteen months. This new foundation will prepare you for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and open the door for your participation in direct patient care. These online programs of study can also put you on the fast track to a satisfying career as a registered nurse (RN) by arranging placement options while you pursue your coursework.
Technology has improved the quality and effectiveness of hospital care, but complexities equate to more training. As a result, more than 60% of RN job offerings now require a bachelor’s degree. Retirements and abnormal industry turnover have led to increased demand for RN professionals to fill the pressing needs of the medical community for more highly trained staff. By 2030, more than 20 million adults will be 65 and older, a time when health needs naturally increase.
These programs of study can be rigorous and will require a major commitment on your part. Still, the rewards are plentiful, and the demand for qualified individuals shows no signs of diminishing for decades. In this article, you will learn a bit more about the current status of the nursing profession, general guidelines on career paths and compensation, key industry trends, and the skills that are now a necessity in this modern technology-driven world of patient care.
Current Status of the Nursing Profession in 2022
According to the American Nursing Association, the demand for nursing professionals will be greater than for any other profession in the United States in 2022. The shortage of qualified nursing personnel has been increasing for the past decade, well before the Covid pandemic wreaked havoc upon the medical establishment and the general population at large. This statement is not recent news.
Projections of retiring “baby boomers” putting increased stress upon medical service providers have been with us for some time. Here are a few other facts worth noting:
- There are 4.3 million registered nurses working in healthcare today, delivering care and improving the nation’s health from a variety of perspectives.
- Retirements, unfortunately, have been outpacing new entrants to the field.
- As of 2020, the average age of an RN was roughly 52 years, and, based on surveys, 20% of these individuals planned to retire in five years.
- Between now and 2030, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job openings for RNs to increase at an annual rate of 9%, averaging nearly 200,000 new positions each year.
- Demand for RNs is increasing as aging demographics and chronic diseases put added stress on the national healthcare system.
Even though these trends have been active for the past decade, many articles have recently highlighted the devastating impact of Covid-19. In a recent survey conducted by the staffing firm Incredible Health, 34% of the nurses contributing to the survey proclaimed their intent to depart their current roles by the end of 2022. Of these, nearly half suggested that high stress and burnout resulting from the Covid pandemic would be the primary cause.
The firm reviewed over 400,000 nurse profiles in its database and directly surveyed over 2,500 RNs. Although some will leave the profession, there are several participants in the survey who noted that they would migrate to other, less stressful roles in the medical community. These disturbing results are occurring at the same time as the pipeline of new entrants to the field of doctors and nurses is woefully behind the curve in meeting new demands in the future.
The implications for new entrants are that, with demand so high, opportunities and compensation will likely expand to fill the gap. To some degree, this shift is already taking place. Significant sign-on bonuses are now commonplace across the industry. Survey participants have also noted that increased pay and benefits rewards are a motivating factor, but their choice to be an RN was also influenced by a more desirable job profile, an enhanced career path for future opportunities, better location placements, and the chance for more training.
Are career path opportunities also expanding for nurses? Qualified RNs have often aspired to be Nurse Practitioners, and states are now opening the doors to more freedom and authority when pursuing this path. Specialization is also routine in the nursing corps, and nurses have also moved into the management ranks at their hospitals or even in support roles related to IT and automated healthcare systems. Experienced nurses are always in demand at local universities and the multitude of support industries working in tandem with healthcare facilities.
Key Industry Trends Impacting Labor Shortages in Medical Professionals
Even though the Covid-19 pandemic has had catastrophic consequences for our global population, medical providers, nurses, and caregiving institutions have also sustained a heavy blow. The entire healthcare industry has been rocked by both medical and financial stress, resulting in a situation where only the slightest of recoveries has begun to take shape.
Industry management, government officials, and consultants are searching for innovative ways to address the staffing issues at hand. Technology will also play a major role from now on. A few noticeable trends are as follows:
- Salaries for RN positions show signs of rising, but many institutions have chosen sign-up bonuses as their incentive of choice at the moment. Incentives weigh heavier when a bachelor’s degree is present. There will also be more consideration given to higher echelons capable of pursuing roles as a family nurse practitioner (FNP) or a nurse practitioner (NP). In fact, many states are expanding the authority for these two groups to address the ongoing shortage of physicians. To date, an NP has full independent practice authority in 27 states, while others may soon follow suit.
- Technology will continue to broaden its capabilities within every distribution channel of healthcare. There has been a major move to digitize and coordinate the sharing of patient medical information, all in line with federal privacy regulations. The catchphrase is EHR for electronic health record, sometimes seen as EMR for electronic medical record. In as little as a decade, adoption rates by hospitals have soared. The top three providers are EPIC, Oracle Cerner, and MEDITECH. Operating experience with any of these will enhance your prospects. Telehealth and chatbot services have also witnessed dramatic rises in adoption rates, allowing more patients to manage their personal medical regimens and take advantage of virtual appointments with their doctors.
- The demographics of the nursing profession are also shifting. More males are entering the nursing workforce. At the same time, more emphasis is being placed on having a bachelor’s degree and on being fluent in more than one language, a strong plus when dealing with the diversity of today’s society. More nurses are also taking advantage of training courses that enable further specialization, which is often an expectation in most hospital settings. As a result, technology has come to the fore, as online educational programs have flourished and become increasingly popular.
- Patients are now more knowledgeable about their personal health matters and realize that urgent care facilities offer an alternative to an emergency room. Nurses are currently dealing with a better-prepared public, and networks of urgent care centers are expanding into their local communities, offering a more cost-effective healthcare approach. RNs and NPs are also focusing their efforts on a more holistic method of treatment, where all aspects of the patient are taken into account, along with preventative measures.
- More attention will be given to addressing the common issues that nurses must face day to day. After years on the front lines fighting Covid, there has been an exodus of nursing talent due to the high-stress environment that became untenable for many. There are signs that this trend is reversing. The role of an RN has been expanded for addressing Covid going forward with more participation in the decision-making process. Nurses are now planning to retire later, and several are returning to the workforce. For those not returning, faculty positions at universities have become another career path to consider.
What Foundational Skills are Involved in Patient Care?
Online BSN programs today address a host of technical and interpersonal skills to equip today’s nursing workforce with the tools necessary to meet today’s challenges.
Technical skills are typically transferable and are of a clinical nature. Many will depend on your area of service and involve local training, hands-on critiques, and a pre-set number of clinical hours to acquire expertise. These basics include such things as checking vital signs, administering CPR, attending to wounds and related bandages, drawing blood, giving injections, inserting and tending to catheters, and starting IVs. They also include knowledge of basic care techniques, areas of care within a hospital setting, transporting and educating patients, patient safety, and technology from updating electronic medical records to operating equipment.
An online BSN curriculum will build upon this foundation by focusing on the theories, principles, and processes for coordinating and designing care plans for patients from diverse groupings within complex healthcare systems. Various courses will deal with common problems, as well as with childbearing and more complex needs while developing a framework for addressing prevention and direct-patient care. An evidence-based decision-making process will be introduced in order to obtain the best outcomes and support for providing care in clinically supervised settings.
Developing these clinical and intellectual core competencies must also be supplemented with what many professionals have labeled “soft” skills. A combination of both will lead to effective physical and emotional care for a patient, which is the definition of a successful nurse. A BSN course of study will necessarily address many of these, but these traits are personal in nature and require time and experience to refine but are essential in order to excel in this profession. A brief summary of the primary ones follows:
- Excellent Communication Skills: First and foremost is the ability to communicate with your interdisciplinary team members by both patiently listening and conveying your thoughts and directives. Nursing also involves teaching patients about their care programs, as well, in a manner that is understood and retained.
- Supportive Team Player: Nurses primarily work in a team setting, where collaboration is key to effective caregiving. Such high-stress situations demand calm, mutual support, and confidence, not drama.
- Share Empathy and Compassion: One core competency that is truly core for nurses is the ability to empathize and show compassion not only for the patient and their family members but also for colleagues. When a patient is suffering and experiencing the most unsettling moment in their lives, the nurse becomes the focal point for emotional support.
- Effective Time Management Skills: There is a multitude of tasks that must be performed effectively and repeatedly. Multi-tasking is a given, but the key ingredient is the ability to quickly assess, prioritize, delegate, and accept when one needs to ask for support. Paying close attention to detail is a must, as is monitoring results on an ongoing basis.
- Adaptable in High-Pressure Situations: The ability to manage stress, keep your emotions in check, and then adapt to whatever happens on the spot is another key to being a successful nurse.
- Display Initiative and Strong Work Ethic: Being a self-motivated initiator is often a must for all nurses. Self-confidence comes from experience, a keen work ethic, and a desire to serve, but it also comes from displaying critical thinking skills when under pressure.
- Positive Professional Attitude: Since a nurse is often dealing with life-and-death situations, professionalism and firm adherence to high ethical standards are major watchwords. Nurses must possess both traits, as well as an innate sense of what is right or wrong on any given occasion.
How does one maintain and hone these skills? There will always be a need to keep up with the latest technology. The hospital’s IT Department will ensure that is the case, but a continued program of learning is always the best policy, as well as finding a good mentor.
Do you want to make your mark in the world of nursing? Do you want to take advantage of a long-term trend that is driving demand for qualified nurses, especially those with broader skill sets, a bachelor’s degree, and aspirations to be an RN? An ancient Chinese proverb says to focus on success and leave regrets behind. Is now the time for you to invest in yourself, enhance your capabilities for the long haul, and focus on success in a fast-paced work environment?
Online bachelor’s degree programs in nursing can now open the doors to several satisfying career paths in the healthcare industry. The industry is in recovery mode at the moment, a good time to enter the workforce and take advantage of the opportunities that abound. These programs can be rigorous and require a substantial commitment on your part, but the rewards can be great. You can often proceed at your own pace while your institution arranges potential placements for your consideration. Now may be the best time “to invest in being the best person you can be”.