If you are a nurse or thinking about becoming a nurse, it’s a good idea to think about what the future holds for nurses in our country. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’ve reviewed information put out in medical journals and stats from the Bureau of Labor and have written you a rundown of nine big issues and trends in the nursing profession that you can expect as we head into the year 2020.

Nursing Trends in 2020

1. Job Security

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a much higher than average rate of growth for the nursing profession at 12 percent from the year 2018 to 2028. According to the article, Four Challenges Facing the Nursing Workforce in the United States, written by Dr. Peter Buerhaus and colleagues in the July 2017 Journal of Nursing Regulation edition, an estimated 60,000-70,000 RN’s from the baby-boomer generation will be retiring annually until 2030. The aging baby-boomer generation and waves of retiring RN’s means job security for nurses. If you are looking to get into the profession, you can trust that the time, energy, and money spent will not be in vain. You will be able to get a job.

2. Nurse Educator Opportunities

The high rate of registered nurse retirement affects not only patient care and healthcare facility staffing but the education field as well. So many nurses with extensive experience and knowledge are retiring from the field and that impacts nursing education. The opportunities to become a nurse educator will rise. If nurse educator opportunities are not available in your community, but you have a strong desire to get into that niche, travel nursing jobs as nurse educators can be found in many communities nationwide.

3. Increased Specialization

Because of the advancements made in medical technology and the significant increase in chronic medical conditions, the demand for specializations in nursing will also rise. Certifications in specialized niches will help you in furthering your career in the field you are most passionate about. These certifications will also help to build trust between you and your patients and employers. Go here to take a look at a very long list of nursing specialties if you’re interested. This is a rising travel nursing trend because travel nurses can map out their assignment destinations based on career-advancing job vacancies that need filled.

4. Prioritized Self-Care

This rising demand for nurses corresponds with a rising interest in nurse retention. Worker retention can be directly correlated with burn out and compassion fatigue. Self-care is part of our Code of Ethics, and as nursing shortages persist, employers are seeing its importance as well. More and more employers in the healthcare field are showing their commitment to their nurses’ well-being by becoming Magnet Certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. To learn more about the importance of self-care, read our previous article, 5 Ways to Decompress During Time Off.

5. Increased Use of Telehealth

Society’s continued use of social media and digital communications is also helping the healthcare industry, particularly in rural and understaffed communities. According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), as much as 76 percent of hospitals in our nation use telehealth as a means of facilitating communication between nursing staff and specialists in other healthcare facilities. These consults that previously may not have occurred can now be an important part of ensuring the best patient care. Telehealth is also allowing nurses opportunities to foster wellness checks and promote patient health in their communities. 

6. Opportunities for Degree Advancement

The rise of retiring RNs is resulting in a large loss of knowledge in the field. There is an increasing demand for nurses to complete advanced degree programs, such as RN to Master’s Degree, RN to Baccalaureate, and the Doctor of Nursing Practice. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, DNP Programs can be found in all 50 states, and there are 219 programs for the transition from RN to MSN, and 777 RN to BSN. Taking time off from working to further your education may not be an option for you financially, or it may be that location is a problem either because you are tied to your community or are a travel nurse moving from state to state every few months. No worries! Many colleges are offering accredited online degree programs that can make it easier for you to continue working and stay in your community while earning your degree. Be sure whatever program you chose, that it has accreditation!

7. Nurses Involved in Advocacy

As nurses continue to be powerhouses in patient care and increase their education and specializations, their firsthand understanding of how legislative policy affects their patients will be a vital part of influencing positive policy changes on Capitol Hill. How can you get involved? Here are a few resources:

8. Increase in Community Outpatient Settings

It’s no secret the cost of inpatient healthcare is high and often unaffordable for Americans. We are seeing a shift from inpatient to outpatient settings to better manage these costs. Nurses working in community outpatient settings have tremendous potential to encourage communities to be more proactive in overall health wellness, preventative care, and restorative care.

9. Nurse Entrepreneurship

Have you ever considered starting your own business? The uneven distribution of healthcare facilities and services to rural towns across America have left a gap of services that can be filled by nurse navigators and nurse practitioners starting their own businesses. If direct practice work doesn’t interest you, consider some sort of consulting business that can go into practices and facilities and consult on ways to improve efficiency, or help with documentation on electronic health records.

As I said, no crystal ball, but the information we have to tell us this field is only growing. With the help of technology and planning, you can plan out your year to advance your nursing career in whichever niche or direction your heart desires. The opportunities are there, you need only plan and move toward them!

Speaking of opportunities, are you looking for your next travel nursing assignment? Search our high-paying travel nursing jobs today.

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Written by Miranda Booher, RN

As a twelve-year Registered Nurse with a healthy background in travel nursing and healthcare marketing, Miranda brings an interesting combination of stellar copywriting skills and first-hand nursing experience to the table. Miranda understands the industry and has a impeccable ability to write about it. And speaking of travel - Miranda currently lives in Uruguay, though she maintains an active Registered Nurse license in the state of Ohio and stays current on the latest healthcare news through her writing. When she is not creating killer copy, or serving others through her work as a nurse, you can find her hanging out on the beach with her loyal husband, three crazy kids, and their beautiful German Shepherd-Husky dog.

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