• NU_Nurse Education

    By Tina Eslinger-Vaughn, Adjunct Professor, Kaplan University School of Nursing

    The nursing profession is growing and diversifying at an amazing pace. The role of nurses is evolving as nurses forge a more direct and personal relationship with patients and their families. Increasingly, nurse specialists and practitioners are taking on more of a leadership role in diagnosing health issues and prescribing care.

    There’s no doubt that this is a great time to be a nurse. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nursing is expected to be one of the fastest-growing professions over the next decade. The BLS predicts employment for registered nurses will grow by 19 percent, a higher rate than the national average. Further, for nursing specialties that require advanced degrees—nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners—the figure is 31 percent, “much faster than the average for all occupations.”

    Why the demand? It comes down to a mix of demographics, pathology, and policy. There’s the aging Baby Boomer population and a resulting heightened emphasis on geriatric care. There’s the obesity epidemic, which has led to higher instances of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and other serious ailments. Finally, there’s the admission of millions of more people into health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act.  

    To build a labor force that can meet this burgeoning need, it’s essential that working nurses and aspirants alike are prepared to continue their education.  The Institute of Medicine’s “Future of Nursing” report stated that nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training to respond to these increasing demands.

    These factors mean that we’ll have to look at the profession in entirely new ways. The health care system is moving from a model dominated by acute-care services to one that emphasizes more decentralized, community-based services. The profession must better accommodate the digital age, and the way it’s changing the relationship between health care providers and consumers. We must learn how to better engage over social media such as Twitter and Facebook to share our expertise on emerging developments in the profession. And, we must master modern treatment technology such as telemedicine and robotics.

    Clearly, nursing is in the midst of a new era. Even the face of the profession has changed. According to a 2013 report by the U.S. Census Bureau, the proportion of male registered nurses has more than tripled since 1970, from 2.7 percent to 9.6 percent. The report’s author, Liana Christin Landivar, explained why: "The relatively high wages and expanding job opportunities makes this field attractive, offering stability even during recessions."

    A career in nursing can take educated nurses in many directions within health care, and there are important roles for all personality types and skill sets. Plus, it’s a field in which there are growing opportunities to find work. As we move forward in addressing new challenges in health care, one thing is certain: Nurses will have a big impact on the way the future of health care unfolds.



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    Tina Eslinger-Vaughn is an adjunct professor at Kaplan University School of Nursing. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University.

    Kaplan University cannot guarantee employment or career advancement. National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. 


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