Things change. That’s life. The nursing profession is no exception. Although the primary focus of nursing– taking care of patients– is still the same, almost everything else has been modified. The evolution of nursing doesn’t stop in the present, either. New breakthroughs, medicines and technologies are constantly being made, meaning nurses and their employers must keep up or risk becoming obsolete. It has become an industry of adaptation.
How has the nursing industry evolved?
Nursing in the Past
Nursing, in its most basic form, started out in the home. Before hospitals were built to house the sick, they were taken care of by their family members in their home. Medicine was not yet considered a science.
Nursing as a practice is said to begin between 1840 and 1845. In Great Britain, Florence Nightingale led several women to a group of sick or injured Crimean War soldiers and began to give them supervised care. On the other side of the sea, American doctor Joseph Warrington wrote a book for society nurses and midwives, the first example of a regulated nursing text.
From there, women started receiving training to become nurses in small to mid-size hospital systems. Their education was observation-based and took normally two to three years. When they graduated, the hospital that owned the education center would bring them on as full-time nurses.
As time went on, hospitals grew larger and education became more comprehensive. Nurses of all races and backgrounds were accepted into programs and became part of the workforce. Technology was brought into hospitals in the form of advanced patient beds, stethoscopes and blood pressure devices.
In the 1960’s, it became commonplace for hospitals to require nurses to have a specialty instead of being proficient in several different areas.
With the advancement of technology and medicine came the need for more education. A certain certification means some can work in nursing homes, a degree or two grants access to patient care in hospitals, and so on. Nurses learned mostly in the classroom and then implemented what they learned on the job.
Nursing in the Present
The biggest changes in nursing from the past to now have to deal with technology and education.
Nurses are required to go to college or a special nursing specialist program before being welcomed into the hospital environment. Education consists of a few years in a classroom setting paired with virtual and in-person labs. From there, nurses-in-training are required to work alongside registered nurses to gain experience before graduating.
Even after graduation, nurses must continue their education. Medicinal advancements, new technology and several other things keep nurses in the classroom long after they’ve left college. If they do not continue learning about the different advancements occurring in their field, they’re considered unprepared and are limited to what sort of nursing they can practice.
Technology has advanced to a point where nurses in training may operate on virtual humans or animals for practice. Once in the field, nurses use advanced technology to monitor their patients’ vital signs, give them the correct amount medicine and measure their weight. Patient notes are kept on a secure computer system instead of clipboards. Health concerns can be observed non-invasively using MRI machines, X-Rays and CAT scans.
Nurses of today also traded in all white uniforms for multicolored scrubs and rubber shoes. Often, the color of a nurse’s scrubs is determined by what unit they’re in.
Nursing in the Future
More education and smaller technology seem to be guaranteed in the future of nursing. It’s estimated that around 80 percent of nurses will have Baccalaureate degrees by 2020, compared to 50 percent today. It’s also estimated that the number of nurses with a doctoral degree will double in the same time frame.
Due to technology’s influence on the medical field, many predict future nurses will also have to be proficient in information management. Nurses are expected to understand how to gather and analyze new data made available by technological advancements.
Data collected from these new machines and procedures will be used to better predict and treat both short-term and long-term illness.
The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health claims a number of barriers will prevent nurses from being able to respond to changing health care settings and an evolving healthcare system. One of these said barriers is leadership in hospital systems. Most are controlled by those without access to the problems nurses face in the line of duty every day.
In the future, nurses are going to be asked to help lead hospitals in a new direction by taking on advanced leadership roles. These roles will ask nurses to implement new care ideas as well as identify problems within hospitals.
It’s estimated that the nursing shortage will continue – there will be a total deficit of 808,000 nurses by the year 2025. Geriatric healthcare professionals will be needed to look after the aging Baby Boomer generation that’s currently dominating the job market. By 2050, it’s projected there will be 83.7 million US residents over the age of 65.
Nursing staffing agencies are going to be in higher demand due to the estimated nursing shortage. Hospitals and other healthcare-related industries are going to be requesting more short and long-term help taking care of the growing population.
Hospitals, in particular, will need help finding and selecting nurses to staff either full-time or part-time, often turning toward medical staffing agencies to help find qualified workers.
Those in the industry that are looking to expand their business as a future investment should look into medical staffing factoring. Staffing factoring provides agencies with the capital needed to recruit more workers, expand working quarters or whatever else your company needs to grow. Nursing staffing financing is also available to ensure hospitals and care facilities have enough workers to properly care for their patients.