As we look ahead into the future of nursing, there are a lot of things that are likely to change as hospitals and healthcare systems continue to evolve and address many of the current nursing issues and concerns of their staff.
There are many trends that we see as possibilities in 2023, but here are some of the trends in nursing that we think we will see play a big part throughout the next year.
Telehealth/Telemedicine is New Normal
In 2023, nurses of all experience levels should expect to have normal interactions within telehealth services. As medical facilities and hospital systems need to see more and more patients, telemedicine proves to have many advantages to help provide quality care.
A 2022 study conducted by J.D. Power found that overall, 94% of respondents who had used telehealth services in the past year would “probably” use the service in the future. They also found that “among patients using telehealth in the past year, 80% say they prefer telehealth for prescription refills; 72% say they prefer telehealth for reviewing medication options; and 71% say they prefer telehealth for discussing test results. Another 57% of patients say they prefer telehealth for regular mental health visits.”
The top reasons for using telehealth are convenience, quick care, and accessibility. Care teams may be reached anywhere in the country, and information can be sent immediately to them using any device with an Internet connection. Patients and healthcare professionals have taken advantage of this to keep up communication and care throughout the pandemic, and there is no indication that this will change.
For nurses, this can mean a shift in responsibility to get meetings prepped and, in some circumstances, having them run the entire appointment with the doctor coming in to give a final diagnosis or treatment. This calls for expertise in remote technologies and the capacity to deliver healthcare in virtual settings.
Nursing Shortage To Continue
The largest nursing shortage the U.S. has ever seen is a result of both a growing need for nursing staff to care for patients with more complicated healthcare requirements and a declining supply of nurses. The shortage is expected to continue throughout 2023.
The nursing shortage also affects the quality of care that patients receive. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities may struggle to meet the demands of patients, leading to longer wait times, increased patient-to-nurse ratios, and higher rates of burnout among young nurses.
Efforts to address the nursing shortage include increasing the number of nursing school graduates, offering incentives for nurses to remain in the workforce, and creating more flexible work schedules to attract and retain nurses. Additionally, the use of technology and telehealth can be a way to alleviate the shortage by allowing nurses to reach more patients remotely.
“The number of people entering the nursing workforce is increasing, but it is not keeping pace with the need,” says Maryann Alexander, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, chief officer of nursing regulation at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing in Chicago. “Additionally, the number of advanced practice registered nurses is increasing.”
A number of states are evaluating the minimum number of general nurses needed for staff positions and increasing financing for healthcare facilities. For the purpose of increasing the number of new nurses, some states are now investing in nursing education, and some universities are increasingly offering rolling admission for nurse-related studies. Finally, other states are considering increasing pay and establishing better, safer healthcare ratios.
Federal Funding Increase
The U.S. Department of Labor announced $80 million in grants to encourage more nurses to enroll in nursing schools and expand the number of nursing professors. The funds will help train additional nurse faculty, who in turn will educate more nurses.
Organizations that suggest plans to aid underrepresented groups as they enroll in nursing programs will be given grants. Successful grant applications will put forth initiatives that foster community relationships and recruit new nurses.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that, “more than 275,000 additional nurses are needed from 2020 to 2030, and that employment opportunities for nurses will grow at 9 percent, faster than all other occupations from 2016 through 2026.”
Despite general nursing shortages, this federal funding is estimated to be a substantial solution to fixing healthcare gaps that may be experienced.
More Travel Nurse and Per Diem Roles
Healthcare facilities have turned to travel and per diem nurses to fill staffing gaps and ensure safe patient care. Traveling nurses are a select group of nurses that are willing to travel the country to work in hospitals and healthcare facilities when they are short-staffed. These contracts could last only a few weeks or multiple months, depending on need. This has become an increasingly good option for hospitals looking to cover a short-staffed department while they are in the process of hiring someone new.
This is also very lucrative for new nurses who are willing to travel often to new cities and new facilities because they can be paid 2–3 times the amount that a standard nurse would be paid.
With an increase in the number of traveling and per diem nurses in a facility, it is critical to ensure that your medical facility can quickly train this staff and has all of the technology and equipment they require to do their jobs effectively.
Focus on Mental Health
It’s no secret that these last few years have been extremely rough on healthcare professionals. Many of them have been asked to work long hours in tough conditions, often to the point of burnout. Through doing that, there has been an incredible new focus on making sure that nurses are not only appreciated but also given the time needed to recover properly from a tough shift and have the resources they need to do their jobs.
A 2022 survey conducted by Reputation Leaders found that 58% of nursing professionals were not regularly offered grief counseling, and 37% of nurses did not feel supported in their mental health (that is within the same ratio as the graph percentage above).
This renewed focus on mental health for nurses is a fantastic thing for them, medical facilities, and patients alike. The nursing staff is often the front line of communication between the medical team and the patient. A nurse that is refreshed and given resources to focus on mental health can better communicate with patients and provide overall better care with improved outcomes. This means the patient gets excellent care and may be able to recover more quickly and have a better overall experience.
What is not to love about that?
The most important takeaway from the trends in nursing for 2023 is that although there aren’t many new or revolutionary things coming within the new year, there will be expanded efforts on nurses’ education, funding, and mental health. Nursing staff deserve to feel valued, taken care of, and balanced.