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The healthcare industry is constantly evolving, and nurses have to adapt to new demands and changes. As we enter a new decade, the Nurses Services Organization team has identified four key trends and challenges impacting nurses, nursing leaders and nurse educators.
Generation Z’s Impact On Nursing Education and the Workplace
According to American Nurse Today, Generation Z tends to be diverse and entrepreneurial and, despite their competitive nature, members have a strong desire to collaborate and bring about change. These traits are greatly impacting nursing education and the industry as a whole. Notably, educators are adapting their lesson plans to be as interactive as possible to best prepare students for the real world. Among other changes, employers are working to harness Gen Z’s digital know-how and enhance their real-world social interactions, while associations are offering expanded mentorship and encouraging professional development opportunities.
Continuing Challenges in Rural Care Settings
Rural hospitals are closing at a rapid rate – almost a quarter are on the brink of closure – a perilous situation since patients from rural communities often face a higher risk for complex health issues. These circumstances provide nurses with the opportunity to enhance their skillsets and work as generalists to meet patient needs. Although rural hospitals provide nurses with opportunities to learn, they also bring about a fair share of challenges. For example, nurses working in rural areas are more susceptible to high levels of burnout caused by intense demands, isolation, lack of support and resources, lower salaries, and less training than they’d receive in more urban settings.
Telehealth’s Ongoing Disruption
In recent years the adoption of telehealth services has exploded. In fact, more than three-fourths of hospitals are currently using or implementing telehealth services. Offerings like patient portals, virtual appointments, and remote monitoring are a few features that allow people to conveniently manage their health information remotely.
Despite the advantages of telehealth, these services raise many questions for nurses. Some areas of concern include: licensure requirements, impacts on patient-nurse relationships and a heightened need for proper documentation.
More than 80 percent of people look online for health information, which can have dangerous implications. The internet is a colossal source of information, but much of that information is often false or inaccurate, which can lead to misdiagnosis or delay of treatment. Compounding the availability of false knowledge is social media, which has the power to spread misleading information far and wide very quickly. This rapid spread of false health information online – for example, about measles vaccinations – poses a growing threat to public health. Vocal online groups can gain a disproportionate amount of traction and create “echo chambers” that make people believe that false health information is true.
Nurses are in a unique position to educate, and to counter misinformation with facts. Face-to-face conversations between healthcare providers and patients and their families can be extremely influential for decision-making. Nurses must use their expertise to counter false ideas that can spread and lead to dangerous health consequences.
Overall, there are many changes on the horizon within the nursing field in the new decade. Nurses must be prepared to adapt to challenges, whether generational, geographic, technological, or societal. Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see how these obstacles are overcome, and how it will impact the industry and the delivery of care.