Just decades ago, nurses were not required to wear disposable gloves when working with patients, syringes and catheters were reused and medical charts were handwritten. It took years before medical professionals recognized the connection between aseptic practices and disease management and sloppy handwriting and patient mortality.
Nursing management has changed over time as healthcare practices and regulations have evolved. The latest trends in nursing management include implementing technological advances, the need for a greater understanding of the population being served, and a renewed focus on quality-assurance practices. A study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found the age 65 and older population is forecast to increase to 56.4 million people by 2020, which is nearly 18 percent over the 2015 rate. At the same time, the supply of nurses would only marginally increase, from the current 3.5 million to 3.95 million by 2020, or by about 13 percent. The shortage is compounded by the sharp increase in nurses expected to retire by 2020.
Students working toward an online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree at Duquesne University are trained to manage the evolving and emerging roles in nursing. The MSN program builds on baccalaureate-level practices to prepare graduates for a comprehensive understanding of the field and strong leadership skills.
Medical professionals see the roles of nurses changing from exclusive caregivers to “roles in coordinating care from multiple providers, managing caseloads of patients with intense care needs, and helping patients transition out of hospitals and into the home or other settings,” experts from the philanthropic organization Roger Wood Johnson Foundation said.
“They are working as ‘health coaches’ and in other ways to prevent illness and promote wellness,” the organization stated.
The fast-paced world of technology has dramatically changed the face of healthcare management with advancements that will require more input from nurses. Emerging technologies that will become vital to the field of nursing include:
Carol Huston, director of California State University’s nursing program and author of a study published in Online Journal of Issues in Nursing that addresses emerging technology in nursing care, said nurse managers must respond to technological changes in lockstep.
Nurse managers who excel in emerging technology fields will be able to use technology, such as email, text messaging, and video conferencing, to communicate effectively with other medical professionals, Huston stated. Huston also mentioned that as nurses become masters at gathering and sharing information, they will ensure high-quality patient care. That care will be reflected by obtaining important patient information that could prove useful in genetic testing and therapies.
The rich cultural mix of the U.S. population includes people from around the world, bringing varied traditions and practices. The nation’s increased diversity, coupled with shifting socioeconomic factors, has brought greater attention to cultural competence in healthcare – that is, the ability of healthcare professionals to effectively meet cultural, social, and linguistic needs for effective patient/caregiver interactions.
Cultural competence is aimed at changing public health practices through widespread education and training. Cultural competency barriers include stereotyping, racism, and prejudice.
“The goal in cultural competence education is to increase public health professionals’ cultural awareness, knowledge of self and others, communication skills, attitudes, and behaviors. Part of this process is confronting stereotypes because many students entering public health have minimal experience with ethnic minorities,” the Institute of Medicine’s Committee On Educating Public Health Professionals For The 21st Century stated in its “Who Will Keep the Public Healthy?” study.
Experts recommend nurse managers guide fellow nurses to make changes to advance cultural competence, including:
“We’re not going to be effective if we’re not responsive to different cultural groups,” stated Rosemarie Taylor, EdD, RN, BSN, MA, and director of education and development at Jackson Health System in Miami. “There are different values, beliefs, and assumptions, and the benefit of incorporating these values and beliefs is more effective patient care.”
Thanks to advances in technology and public health, people are living longer than ever. In the United States, the average life expectancy is 78.8 years. By comparison, in 1970, the average life expectancy was 70.8 years. This aging population requires a well-trained workforce that is able to meet the complex healthcare needs of the elderly.
An estimated 90 percent of adults age 65 and older have one or more chronic conditions that must be managed by a coordinated care team, but finding providers to offer such assistance is problematic. Many practitioners say the federal healthcare program Medicare has become increasingly difficult to navigate and is slow to pay medical bills, “so those who specialize in caring for older adults often earn less than their colleagues in other disciplines,” the Eldercare Workforce Alliance reported. At the same time, few practitioners specialize in the treatment of the elderly because their needs are complex.
Quality care and practices largely depend on nurses, often the most visible component of any healthcare institution. Quality-assurance nurses protect patient health and safety by following standards set by state laws and their practicing institutions. Quality-assurance nurses ensure facilities follow standards set by The Joint Commission, an independent non-profit that accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations nationwide. QA nurses review incident reports and ensure patient and staff safety. In some cases, they research the credentials of staff medical professionals who require a license or certification. They also review programs to increase the quality of care and define measurable outcomes. With technological advances that require less human interaction, it has become increasingly important to have quality-assurance nurses to oversee healthcare practices.
The Duquesne University School of Nursing is top ranked in U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs. The MSN program offers three areas of specialization: Forensic Nursing, Family (Individual Across the Lifespan) Nurse Practitioner, and Nursing Education and Faculty Role. For more information, visit DU’s MSN program website.