The passage of the Affordable Care Act means more than 32 million Americans will gain access to additional preventative health care services, and registered nurses will play an important role in this health care expansion.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the demand for registered nurses is expected to grow by 26 percent through 2020. In addition to an increased emphasis on preventative care, technological advancements in health care and the increased demand for health care services for the aging Baby Boomer generation will fuel growth in the nursing field.
Besides putting additional strains on the health care system, the aging of the Baby Boomer generation means that a large segment of the nursing population is also reaching retirement age. Employers need to recruit younger nurses to replace those who are about to retire and provide opportunities for retiring nurses to pass on their knowledge and experience to the next generation of nursing professionals.
Nurse practitioner programs across the country have been challenged to meet the need for more nursing professionals and to empower the next generation of nurses with the 21st century skills needed to provide care in today’s changing health care arena.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, nursing schools had to turn away more than 67,000 qualified prospective students in 2010 due to shortages in teaching faculty, classroom space, and clinical sites.
The increased demand for nursing faculty means that more nurses are needed in the education realm. Experienced nurses who can combine clinical expertise with a passion for teaching are needed to mentor the next generation of nurses.
As a nurse educator, these nurses will prepare the future nursing workforce for the ever-changing health care environment. In addition to designing and implementing degree programs that lead to certification, they will provide the continuing education programs that are needed to update working nurses as new technology and medical advances become available.
The next generation of nurses will require increased education in nursing informatics. Although many nursing schools use educational technology, the National League for Nursing reports that schools need to focus more on practice technology. Too few nursing students are being prepared to work in a health care environment that is increasingly reliant on sophisticated technology. No nurse of the future can afford to enter the workforce unconnected to medical information technology.
Despite the increased demand for nursing professionals, studies have found that fewer than half of high school-age students are considering careers in science or health care. Students say this is because they don’t understand what these careers entail or they feel too intimidated by the difficulty of the subject matter. Nursing schools and high schools need to work together to provide prospective nursing students with details about the nursing profession.
Some nursing schools have initiated creative approaches to attract young students to careers in nursing. The University of Washington School of Nursing is one of a growing number of colleges and universities that hosts a summer Nurse Camp. The free week-long day camp is geared toward increasing interest in nursing careers among minority and low-income high school students. The Mayo Clinic and other health care organizations also offer Nurse Camps, including camps for elementary and middle school students.
Because of the high demand for new nurses, there are many types of financial aid available for nursing students. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing provides a directory of financial aid resources on its website. Another good source for financial aid information is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which recognizes the critical shortage of health care professionals and offers scholarships, low-cost loans, and loan repayment programs for nursing education.
This article was written by Social Media Outreach Coordinator Erica Moss, on behalf of CAREEREALISM-Approved Partner, 2tor — an education technology company.
Next generation nurses image from Bigstock