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5 Changes for Nurse Practitioners in 2017

A nurse works in the community

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are poised to play a major role in the quickly shifting landscape of health care today. One consistent trend over the last few years has been increased educational expectations, making Online Master of Science in Nursing programs an attractive choice for nurses looking to become NPs. Additionally, expanded scope of practice laws and more robust prescribing privileges continue to give nurses greater independence. However, these changes represent only a few of the ways in which nursing is evolving in 2017.

Read more about what’s in store for the Nurse Practitioner in 2017:

1. Greater job satisfaction

Like many other clinical positions, NPs often face a high amount of workplace stress. This, combined with other organizational issues, has led to high turnover rates among nurses, contributing to the nation wide nursing shortage. A growing body of evidence has also shown the direct relationship between nurse job satisfaction, patient outcomes, and hospital success: Happier nurses lead to healthier patients.

These factors are behind a renewed push to reduce long shifts and frequent overtime requirements for nurses. Many researchers and professional organizations also advocate for the implementation of self-governance programs and data-driven staffing. Such measures are expected to reduce labor costs while also improving quality of life for staff nurses. A more widespread adoption of these and other initiatives may prove to increase NP job satisfaction and reduce nurse turnover.

2. A larger focus on meeting the needs of underserved communities

While measures like the Affordable Care Act have helped make health care more accessible for millions of Americans over the last few years, others continue to go without. This is especially apparent in underserved communities, such as remote rural areas and poor urban neighborhoods. Residents in these communities have a limited choice of medical care providers. Compounding this problem is America’s aging population, which has been consistently identified as the key driver for greater NP demand in the U.S. Elderly patients frequently have limited mobility, placing additional roadblocks to care where travel is necessary.

As a result, it’s common for underserved populations to receive care that is not adequate, timely, or appropriate. Too frequently, these patients end up in overcrowded emergency rooms for non-emergency situations that could be handled by an NP. A greater number of NPs available to such communities may be able to fill in the primary care provider gap.

To better serve these groups, nurse practitioners are also likely to work more closely with community health workers in the coming years. One study conducted by researchers at George Washington University found that hospitals and other large health systems are hiring more of these specialized professionals, who are more traditionally employed by community-based organizations. Open communication between nurses and community health workers is a promising strategy for improving patient satisfaction and compliance.

3. More diversity among nurse practitioners

The increasingly diverse nursing workforce may be helpful for providing care to these underserved communities. For example, nurses who share a background with their patients — whether cultural, ethnic, or socioeconomic — are likely to better understand their unique needs. In these situations, shared experiences often facilitate communication and enhance trust, ultimately improving quality of care. This effect can be most dramatically seen where language barriers exist — multilingual NPs have the unique ability to translate complex medical instructions while also ensuring they are understood.

Additionally, as more men join the field, nursing may also soon see more diversity in terms of gender. While the vast majority of nurses today are women, the number of male nurses has tripled since 1970. This demographic trend is likely to continue through this year and beyond.

4. An increased reliance on nurses for clerical duties

Nurses aren’t just taking on responsibilities usually held by physicians — they’re also more frequently expected to fulfill support staff roles. As electronic health records are becoming more universally adopted and easier to use, less time needs to be dedicated to paperwork for each patient visit. As a result, surveys have identified a possible reduction in support staff hours, which might mean these discrete positions may eventually be phased out. And it looks like clinicians — including NPs — are the ones expected to fulfill many of the clerical duties that remain. The result? It’s more important now than ever for today’s nurses to keep up with evolving communication technologies.

5. Continued robust job security

Nursing may be an excellent choice for those seeking greater stability in their future careers. With many factors coming together to create a major NP shortage, advanced practice registered nurses are in high demand — a trend unlikely to end any time soon. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a 35 percent increase in the number of nursing positions by 2024, painting a rosy picture for the average NP. And current estimates warn that nursing school enrollment rates are not growing fast enough to meet this projected increase in demand. Such a disparity between demand and supply suggests that nurses in the near future will experience even greater bargaining powers and a wider variety of job opportunities.

Making Sure You’re Ready for the Future of Nursing

Prospects are positive for experienced nurses and NPs in particular. For nurses looking to stay competitive or take on an active leadership role in the future, the Online Master of Science in Nursing at Maryville University can be a helpful step. This online MSN program offers rigorous coursework while also allowing students the flexibility to fit their studies around busy schedules. Whether through formal classes or informal individual research, it pays to keep learning.

Sources:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170201162453.htm

http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/nurse-practitioner

http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/nursing-shortage

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26131607

http://www.hhnmag.com/articles/3253-four-measures-that-are-key-to-retaining-nurses

https://www.americannursetoday.com/improving-the-nursing-work-environment/

http://www.ananursespace.org/blogs/peter-mcmenamin/2015/08/21/rn-diversity-note?ssopc=1