Reading the (Nursing Career) Writing on the Wall

Reading the (Nursing Career) Writing on the Wall

It’s no secret that the healthcare industry is in flux, and the nursing profession is no stranger to change. While we didn’t need a global public health emergency in the form of a pandemic to kickstart the process of a massive evolution, we find ourselves on the shifting sands of the third decade of the 21st century. So, what does this mean for nurses and their careers? 

What’s Written on the Wall? 

Considering the nature of the writing on the wall now, it’s not all just meaningless graffiti. Specific changes were already in process before COVID-19 reared its ugly head, and some are now perhaps more jet-propelled than before.

Remote nursing is here to stay

One piece of writing on the wall is that remote nursing is here to stay, and many nurses couldn’t be happier about working from the comfort of their homes. Yes, there were remote nursing jobs before the pandemic, but now there are more than ever. Quality assurance, chart review, remote home care, telehealth, case management, oncology nurse coordination, utilization review — remote nursing jobs are ubiquitous, and there’s no end to the trend.

Nurse practitioners are in the ascendant

One thing is for sure regarding job growth: NPs  are at the top. With 40 percent job growth projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for CNRA, CNMs, and NPs through 2031, those who choose this career track stand a better chance of landing the position they’re after. And with MD job growth projections in the dismal single digits, NPs are even more assured of their market viability.

RN job growth is not as strong

According to the BLS, registered nurse job growth through 2031 has dropped to around 6 percent (as fast as average) from its strong showing before the pandemic. These numbers may not be so terrible in relative terms, but it’s certainly less robust than the 14 or 15 percent we were used to for so long. 

The robots aren’t coming for your bedside nursing job

Artificial intelligence (AI) may appear to be in the news every two minutes these days (especially when it comes to chatbots), but nurses aren’t be losing their bedside jobs to AI soon. AI is already making inroads in diagnostics, drug discovery, claims processing, and surgical applications, but as for robots providing bedside nursing care and usurping the hands-on role of the nurse, not so fast. However, is there potential for AI to take over chart review, utilization review, data abstraction, and the types of tasks that are more and more available in remote nursing roles? Absolutely, so nurses in the remote space need to remain aware of the latest trends.

Technological development is key

Health-related apps, virtual and augmented reality, increasingly sophisticated electronic medical records (EMRs), wearables, remote patient monitoring, and gamification are some areas where more technological development is likely to occur in healthcare. Pursuing training, expertise, and perhaps even a higher degree in a technology-adjacent area is a prudent investment in career growth for nurses interested in tech. Nurses who are interested can learn to code or build apps, become EMR super users or nurse informaticists, or land positions educating providers on the use of new technologies. Enhanced expertise in a tech-related area is smart, no matter how you slice it. . 

Resume bots and AI-driven interviews

Bots that scan resumes for keywords before a human can look them over are the norm, even in mid-sized healthcare employers. As a result, your resume needs to be optimized for keywords to get past the bots, so brush up on how to make that happen. As for AI-driven interviews, this will become increasingly common, so don’t be surprised if you or someone you know has a job interview sooner than later where another human is not involved. This may seem disconcerting and impersonal, but it’s no longer something we’ll see in the distant future; instead, the future is now.

Keep Your Eye on the Wall

As noted above, the writing is already on the wall for many of these changes in the healthcare and nursing space, and it behooves every nurse to keep an eye on the trends.  

Even if you’re not currently in the job market, the truth is that you likely will be at some point in the future, and not keeping up with the world around you can put you at a true disadvantage. It’s a fast-moving world out there, and keeping abreast of what’s happening and staying sharp and attuned to those changes is a strategic move. 

There’s always plenty to be simultaneously excited and trepidatious about in healthcare, and we never want to become complacent or ignorant. So keep your eye on the wall, your ears to the rail, and your finger in the wind, and you’ll be one of the savviest and most up-to-date nurses around.

Daily Nurse is thrilled to feature Keith Carlson, “Nurse Keith,” a well-known nurse career coach and podcaster of The Nurse Keith Show as a guest columnist. Check back every other Thursday for Keith’s column.