Online BSN Programs Help Nurses Keep Their Fingers on the Pulse
Healthcare is changing faster than ever, and as frontline healthcare workers, nurses need to keep up with these changes. Nurses who take on the challenge and enroll in an online RN to BSN program gain the skills and knowledge they need to stand out from other job applicants, qualify for promotions, and last but not least, provide the best patient care possible. Working RNs may think that it is impossible to go back to school without sacrificing their careers or personal lives, but with the freedom of an online RN to BSN program, there is nothing to fear. Here are eight trends in nursing to keep in mind.
1. Living Longer
As medical care advances, fewer people are dying from acute illnesses and are therefore living longer. The older a person gets, the more likely he or she is to suffer from a chronic illness — many people living long lives with illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Nurses need to understand how to care for patients with long-term, chronic illnesses. Communicating with patients and their families about the condition, the treatment plan and preventive care is also crucial. Knowing how to chat with senior citizens about the “weather” does not hurt either. Nurses can polish these skills in an online RN to BSN program.
Another of the trends in nursing is the change in demographics of the nurses themselves. According to NursingWorld, more than half of working nurses are over the age of 50. As these nurses retire in the coming years, new nurses will be in even greater demand. During the next few decades, the Millennial generation will take over those vacant nursing jobs, and there are advantages and disadvantages to this trend. Newer nurses may not have the leadership and communication skills that more experienced nurses do. They may lack confidence and experience with certain aspects of the job. On the other hand, younger nurses are more tech-savvy and culturally diverse than their predecessors. These are great advantages as advances in technology continue to gain momentum and the U.S. population becomes more diverse.
2. Nurses to the Rescue Before the Problem Starts
In recent years, medical research has shown that many illnesses — chronic illnesses in particular â€” are preventable. We now know more of the behaviors that can cause problems down the road. Obesity can lead to diabetes and heart disease. Using tobacco products can cause various cancers. Preventive healthcare saves money and lives. Nurses will need to know more about preventive medicine and how to work closely with nutritionists, physical therapists and others involved in preventive care. Nurses learn these skills in RN to BSN programs.
3. Know-It-All Patients
Patients have more information than ever about their symptoms, illnesses, medications, side effects and treatments. Websites like WebMD offer information patients want before seeing their doctors. TV commercials bring the diseases, treatments and possible side effects right into the patients’ living rooms. Unfortunately, not all of this information is correct or appropriate for a given patient’s illness. It is essential for nurses to separate the good information from the bad and have the communication skills to explain these issues to their patients.
4. Robots, Apps and the Internet, Oh My!
Technology in healthcare is developing at an ever-increasing pace and improving patient outcomes in many ways. It is crucial that nurses keep up. Electronic Health Records or EHRs are becoming the standard for maintaining patient information. These electronic charts are more secure and accurate. Providers can also share them more easily with appropriate third parties. Nurses need to have a basic knowledge of computers to use this technology.
New technology in nursing is not just about accurate and secure patient information. Many hospitals have started to use robots for simple tasks like bringing supplies to nurses’ stations, delivering test samples to labs and lifting heavy objects. Nurses have to be comfortable with technology to interact with these robots to improve efficiency and patient outcomes.
Universities and other training centers are using technology to assist student nurses in learning procedures before they meet their first patients. With high-tech mannequins, students can learn difficult procedures like starting IVs, giving prostate exams and delivering babies. Students in online RN to BSN programs have access to these high-tech learning tools.
5. Retail Medicine — Doc-in-a-Box
The number of urgent care clinics in the U.S. is continuing to grow. According to the Convenient Care Association, “Retail-based clinics are expected to grow to 3,000 locations by 2016.” Retail outlets like Walmart and Target are starting to add such clinics to their stores. The proliferation of these “doc-in-a-box” clinics gives nurses yet another job option.
6. Long Distance Relationships
One new option for patient care is telemedicine. Using the internet, nurses can talk to patients anywhere in the world. It is a great tool for rural and underserved areas, and it also helps homebound patients without acute issues. With similar technology, nurses can monitor chronic conditions â€” diabetes for example â€” with mobile applications from any distance. They can also check vitals on ICU patients in rural areas. Telemedicine also helps senior citizens stay in their homes longer.
7. Money Only Pays for It
Due to more high-deductible health plans, patients are paying for more of their healthcare. It is no surprise that they want to choose where they spend their money. Not only will patients choose newer and nicer facilities over older ones, but they will also choose whether to return to facilities based on the experiences they have with providers there. HR managers know that nurses’ soft skills are more important than ever. No one spends a lot of money at a restaurant if the server is rude.
8. Higher Degrees Required
As more hospitals strive for “magnet” status, they require more of their nurses to be BSN-prepared. Among other things, all nurse managers must have a BS or higher for the hospital to reach magnet status. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recommended that at least 80 percent BSN-prepared nurses comprise hospital nursing staff by 2020, and with the advent of online RN to BSN programs, it is easier than ever for nurses to earn higher degrees. Because there is no rigid schedule and they can complete their coursework from almost any location, nurses can continue working while taking classes.
As new nursing positions open and more students enroll in nursing programs, healthcare facilities and universities need more nurse managers and instructors to guide them. Many universities also offer online programs for advanced degrees.
To stay abreast of the trends in 2016, nurses need to learn to work with technology, and they need to understand the cultural issues that affect healthcare. More options are opening every day, giving nurses a wide variety of career paths to choose from. An online RN to BSN program is the perfect place to start.
Learn more about the Purdue Northwest online RN to BSN program.
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