Emerging Trends In Nursing Jobs


By Bill Sterzenbach

The nursing profession has witnessed tremendous changes in the last five decades. In this continually changing environment, it is important to study the trends in nursing jobs in order to determine a successful career path.

Today the demand for Registered Nurses or RNs has increased considerably, because of two factors. Firstly, relatively less fresh enrolment down the years since the turn of the century along with retirements of extant RNs has led to a shortage of trained nurses. Secondly, there is an increase in a nurse's range of function, with rise in the number of the elderly due to improved healthcare systems and the introduction of community-based preventive projects.

According to the Federal Bureau of Health professions, "In 2000, the National supply of FTE registered nurses was estimated at 1.89 million, while the demand was projected at 2 million, a shortage of 110,000, or 6 percent. Based on what is known about trends in the supply of RNs and their anticipated demand, the shortage is expected to grow relatively slowly until 2010, by which time it will have reached 12 percent". (Source http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/healthworkforce/reports/rnproject/report.htm)

It is clearly a time for those interested in healthcare professions to join nursing, and those already working as qualified nurses to consider specialization. Pay hikes in the nursing industry in recent years are a good incentive, though the number of nurses existing is still short of that in demand. Some of the trends in the area of nursing jobs well worth considering can be both well paid and challenging.

Becoming a traveling nurse has long been a popular option since some agencies began to work with traveling nurses in order to cater for temporary shortfalls in certain areas. It can combine the advantages of traveling free of cost to see a new place while enjoying free housing and other benefits. This also provides the opportunity to add a premier hospital to one's resume. Staff nursing at Magnet hospitals is also a good option. They involve their nurses in decisions affecting the patient and the work environment and allow participation in shared governance structures.

In the aftermath of a natural disaster like Katrina, the most immediately perceived need was for someone to be able to combine clinical skills with information technology. The need for electronic medical records was emphasized in the wake of the devastation left behind by the hurricane. This is the purview of the nurse informatics who can find a niche in various areas including corporations that hire them for positions in R&D and sales, as they are able to demonstrate products to the customers. They can branch into teaching and training positions in the academia, or as systems analysts, or information officers in hospitals.

There is also a surging demand for Acute Care Nurse Practitioners (ACNPs), who provide care in critical situations, where the patients have advanced, acute or chronic problems. They are usually found in Intensive Care Units(ICUs), but also work in various other areas including pediatrics, psychiatry or anesthetics. They obtain medical histories, conduct physical examinations, and even plan and direct treatments and investigations.

Another option for the ACNPs can be in the area of genetic nursing. The mapping of the human genome means that the importance of genes and genetics in certain medical conditions cannot be ignored, and there is a need for trained nurses to simplify the geneticists' prognosis and interpret test results for the patients and their families. Such nurses work in regional genetics networks, specialty genetic labs, and help in education, counseling, and testing.

Modern medicine requires special implants and insertions in the patient's body for a long-term venous access, especially in the case of chemotherapy or antibiotic therapies. The infusion nurses do this successfully and are usually on call in various hospitals.

End-of-life nursing is another trend that has renewed interest in hospice and palliative care, and is likely to be increasingly on demand in an aging population and a national consciousness towards dignifying the death experience. Also in a post 9/11 world where the threat of bio-terrorism looms large, nursing in Public Health is seeing increased investments.

In an era of technological advancements, increasing opportunities in healthcare professions and better incentives than ever before, the nursing practice is sure to become more popular, and meet increasing demands for care, comfort, knowledge and support.

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