As the nation’s largest healthcare professions, nurses are at the forefront of the exponential and dynamic changes facing the healthcare system. Over the past several years, with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the introduction of new patient care technologies, the role of nurses has expanded to include primary and preventative care, patient case management and advanced clinical specialties, to name a few.1
According to a recent University of Phoenix® College of Health Professions School of Nursing survey of 250 registered nurses and 253 healthcare administrators with a minimum of 2 years’ experience,when the registered nurses were asked about changes in their role over the last two years, 49% cited an increase in patient care management and planning and 47% cited increased involvement with information systems.2 The demand for new skills such as these highlights the need for nurses to invest in themselves to continue to provide high-quality care for their patients.
As a nurse leader and RN, I understand the demands on adjusting roles and responsibilities to ensure appropriate care delivery for each patient, and the difficulties that may arise when navigating new technologies and patient care solutions. Nurses today must be adaptable and resilient since the pace of change is increasing more quickly than ever.
This ongoing evolution of nursing roles is why I believe it is critical that nurses pursue advanced degrees and certifications, continue to adapt to and lead changes in the healthcare system, and deeply understand new technologies and treatment solutions. After all, our patients’ health depends on it.
Expanding Roles of Nurse Professionals
While nearly half of registered nurses in the University of Phoenix® College of Health Professions School of Nursing survey indicated that they are seeing changes in their role currently and anticipate continued changes over the next five years, only 31% indicated that they feel fully prepared to adapt to such changes2.
Preparing ourselves and one another is paramount to continuing to provide the high-quality care patients expect. Continuing to deliver the highest quality of care for our patients is achievable through understanding advances in medical and nursing science, remaining committed to patient-centered care and collectively enhancing our critical thinking and leadership skills.
Being at the forefront of the changes in healthcare, innovative treatment solutions, available medical technologies and advanced patient care procedures will help to ensure our patients are confident that the care they receive is the right care for their unique needs. Remaining up-to-date and pursuing opportunities to better understand new and relevant advances will help to keep our nursing practice contemporary and effective.
Commitment to Patient-Centered Care
Not only is the healthcare industry changing, but so are the patients. Patients today are more informed than ever before. They expect to receive relevant information in ways that are understandable to them, and they expect to be part of their own care planning. In addition to being more informed, each patient is unique. Creating a plan of care that is based on patient preferences assures that care will be patient-centered and address the uniqueness of that patient. The overwhelming majority of registered nurses (96%) in the aforementioned survey indicated that skills including compassion, empathy and support are just as important as technical skills in giving quality care to patients 2.
Enhancing Your Leadership Skills
More and more, we see nurses stepping into leadership roles to meet the increasingly complex demands of today’s healthcare system. More than one-third (39%) of registered nurses indicated that in the last two years they have been expected to take on a greater leadership role in their facility2. Additionally, more than half also indicated that their employers offer training in critical skills including stress management (56%), decision-making (45%) and organizational skills (44%). It is up to all of us to continue to take advantage of these opportunities to be leaders within our care settings and support our peers in doing the same.
The future is now. I encourage all nurses to continue to enhance their careers and invest in themselves by participating in facility training programs or turning to institutions of higher education for accreditation or specialty certification.
Supporting One Another
Beyond just investing in your own professional development, it is important to invest time in support of your colleagues’ efforts to invest in themselves as well. We support one another through tough cases and uniquely understand the needs of other nurses. Ninety-five percent of registered nurses in our survey said proper training of new staff has a major or moderate impact on the overall quality of care given to patients.2 Developing skills together and encouraging ongoing learning opportunities, will not only lead to better patient outcomes and a better healthcare system, but will help position nurse to better recognize alternatives and make choices.
Changes in the healthcare landscape offer nurses unique opportunities to be engaged in care delivery for the future. Together, we can address the needs of our patients and assure the nursing profession is securely positioned to meet the dynamic needs of the healthcare system.
1. American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Nursing Fact Sheet. http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/nursing-fact-sheet. April 12, 2011.
2. University of Phoenix® College of Health Professions School of Nursing Survey. Online. June 23-July 1, 2016.
Betty Nelson is academic dean for University of Phoenix® College of Health Professions School of Nursing. For information about University of Phoenix programs, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed the program and other important information, please visit www.phoenix.edu/programs/gainful-employment