Why is 2020 the year of the nurse? In the last ten years, nursing trends have ranged from increased specialization to the emergence of telehealth. In 2020, the world is embracing healthcare workers as heroes and designating it as the "Year of the Nurse."
This blog will investigate how modern nursing and BSN-MSN nursing programs are changing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and other global healthcare challenges, and celebrate the resilience and hard work of nurses professionals everywhere.
Year of the Nurse
The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared 2020 as "Year of the Nurse and the Midwife" in its annual campaign.
Why is 2020 the year of the nurse? The WHO and its partners aim to highlight the obstacles nurses are currently facing, promote healthcare funding, and celebrate nurses' and midwives' work nationwide in a year-long tribute.
The "Year of the Nurse" was originally inspired by the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth, a pioneer in establishing modern nursing and holistic healthcare practices. However, the inception and effects of COVID-19 have highlighted the essential role of nurses and midwives.
Nurses and midwives account for nearly 50 percent of the global health workforce and play a critical role in maintaining the quality of healthcare throughout COVID-19 and beyond. The Independent says, "as health workers across the globe continue to battle against the coronavirus pandemic – the legacy of the trailblazing nurse has never been so pertinent."
What is the Role of Nursing in Healthcare?
Registered nurses, nurse practitioners and midwives provide an extensive range of essential health services in all levels of healthcare and communities.
Nursing encompasses RNs, NPs and nursing specialists and refers to the delivery of independent and collaborative care for individuals of all ages, families, diverse groups and communities. The nursing profession includes health promotion, illness prevention and healthcare for ill, disabled and dying people.
The WHO states that to achieve global health for all, we need millions of well-trained, educated, regulated and supported nurses and midwives. Nations must ensure that essential healthcare workers receive pay and recognition that corresponds with the essential services and care that they provide.
Nursing Challenges Exacerbated by COVID-19
Countless challenges, such as the nationwide nursing shortage, trickle down into other day-to-day conflicts nurses often face. Prior to the pandemic, nurses were already facing issues in the workplace including:
- Nursing shortages
- Long working hours
- Workplace hazards
- Bullying and harassment
- Advancements in technology
Learn more about these and other challenges nurses face on a daily basis in our blog "Challenges in Nursing: What Do Nurses Face on a Daily Basis?".
On top of these challenges, the global pandemic changed the healthcare system's demands and responses, requiring nursing professionals to adapt. The presence of COVID-19 affects nursing roles and responsibilities in the following ways:
- Nurse educators have worked overtime to provide training to frontline staff on how to care for COVID-19 positive patients.
- Nursing managers have stocked and restocked all necessary personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Nurse researchers have communicated proper COVID-19 protocols to other staff and patients.
- RNs and NPs have worked behind the scenes to introduce new tools, like telehealth, that streamline patient flow to meet the demand of the pandemic.
These are only some of the ways nurses have demonstrated resilience and agility in the face of unprecedented challenges. Although COVID-19 has proven to be a significant demand in 2020, nurses continue to face other unique challenges.
Do Nursing Challenges Vary in Different Clinical Environments?
Yes, nursing challenges vary based on clinical environments. The challenges mentioned above continue to be relevant in every position. Still, nursing professionals also experience unique trials depending on their clinical setting.
- Financial challenges: Hospitals often lack financial resources, equipment and training spaces. Financial challenges can result from delayed payment by insurance companies and lead to the lack of payment to nursing personnel as funds are reallocated to treatments.
- Personnel shortages: The nationwide nursing shortage has required hospital RNs and NPs to work overtime. As a result, 63 percent of hospital nurses report experiencing burnout, increasing the probability of severe physical and mental health consequences for nursing staff, while also putting a strain on the nursing profession.
- Behavioral health and addiction: Hospitals lack the necessary programs and facilities to address addiction. This rise in hospital admissions related to opioids has increased demand for nursing professionals.
- Reaching patients in rural areas: NPs struggle to treat and monitor patients that live in rural or remote areas. This is because the supply for primary care typically does not meet the demand in these areas. Depending on location, some patients may also reside over 20 miles away from the nearest healthcare setting.
- Transitioning to virtual telehealth visits: NPs are experiencing a learning curve as they assess more patients using telehealth technology. Although, some may have used telehealth prior to the pandemic, the sudden shift to remote care to promote safety has
- Reducing the prevalence of chronic diseases: Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States and the primary drivers of $3.5 trillion in annual healthcare costs. Primary care AGNPs are on the frontlines, helping prevent chronic disease through screening and health promotion.
Long-Term Care Facilities
- Higher acuity: Patients in long-term care facilities require higher levels of attention and routine service from AGNPs.
- Nursing shortages: Safe nurse staffing ratios are difficult to maintain in long-term care facilities during widespread personnel shortages and affect patients' safety and health.
- Harassment: Researchers found that residents in long-term care facilities experiencing fear, confusion and agitation can sometimes lead to assault, verbal abuse and harassment against nursing staff.
Do Challenges Vary in Different Nursing Roles?
Various nursing roles present different challenges for individuals based on roles, responsibilities, and the healthcare system's state. For example, the day-to-day experience of an FNP delivering primary care is different from that of an NP working in an acute care setting.
RN vs. NP
A registered nurse is typically responsible for more administrative tasks than NPs, such as patient monitoring, maintaining patient records, communicating with the patients and assisting physicians.
The top issues facing RNs include unsafe staffing issues and mandatory overtime. Healthcare facilities must maintain a specific nurse to patient ratio and often require RNs to work overtime to meet this need.
A nurse practitioner has a higher level of education (MSN degree) and more work experience (5+ years minimum of nursing experience) than an RN. An NPs' role more closely resembles a physician's role.
A recurring issue for NPs is the need to collaborate during care delivery. NPs must practice to the fullest extent of their education and work with physicians to improve patients' quality of care.
FNP vs. AGNP
Family nurse practitioners care for patients of all ages in hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities. FNPs can prescribe medication and work in a primary care or acute care setting. A major challenge
FNPs face is monitoring scope of practice (SOP) restrictions and navigating state regulations. The breach of SOP could lead to civil liability, and according to nursing researchers, FNPs must be familiar with their state's SOP, prescribing limits and when referrals to specialists are needed.
Adult-gerontology nurse practitioners work with young adults (13+), adults and elderly populations to optimize their health. AGNPs provide geriatric and end-of-life care to aging populations and face the considerable baby boomer population aging and seeking more intensive care.
According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), "Seniors are the biggest consumers of health care, and already, 60% of aging baby boomers have been diagnosed with arthritis, diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure — all chronic conditions that require consistent, ongoing care." AGNPs are responsible for delivering regular, quality care to this population.
Acute Care NP vs. Primary Care NP
Acute care NPs work in emergency care settings, urgent care, trauma care and other immediate healthcare needs. These settings are often time sensitive and stressful due to the risk of complications in vulnerable patient populations.
Primary care NPs help patients with disease prevention and health promotion and are integral in reducing chronic diseases. Primary care NPs monitor and treat patients with one or more chronic conditions, regularly checking in with patients.
How Are Nurses Overcoming Challenges?
Why is 2020 the year of the nurse? Despite the global pandemic, nursing shortage and day-to-day stresses presented by the nursing profession, hard-working RNs and NPs continue to care for Americans and maintain quality of care for all. This resilience and dedication are why 2020 is the year of the nurse.
Without a doubt, nurses are owed everlasting respect and appreciation for their tireless commitment to promoting health and wellbeing for all.
Aside from personal resilience, numerous factors have helped nurses overcome challenges and practice to the fullest extent of their capabilities, such as:
- Supportive nursing educators, faculty, mentors and alumni from nursing schools
- Healthcare reform that increasingly focuses on preventative care and health promotion
- The development of organizational resiliency strategies to create a work-life balance for nurses and prevent burnout
- Nurses becoming patient advocates for higher quality care and engaging in healthcare policy reform
Opportunities for Nurses
Despite the challenges, nursing as a profession was ranked #4 in "Best Healthcare Jobs" by U.S. News & World Report. NPs, LPNs and RNs reported satisfaction rates ranging from 94 percent to 96 percent according to a survey conducted by the Advisory Board. According to the American Nurse Association (ANA), the following trends are creating opportunities for nurses:
- The Affordable Care Act is increasing access to health care services for more Americans
- Healthcare reform is prioritizing primary care, prevention, wellness and chronic disease management
- Baby Boomers are increasing Medicare rolls
- Community-based healthcare is evolving
- Nursing specialties are in high demand
The opportunities available to nursing professionals in the United States lead to rewarding benefits, from high annual salaries to a positive job outlook. NPs are resilient, hard-working professionals recognized by organizations like the WHO and compensated with tangible returns.
Above Average Salary
Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives and Nurse Practitioners in the U.S. earn approximately $115,800 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); roughly 58 percent higher than the average national salary at $48,672 per year.
Positive Career Outlook
The career outlook for NPs is exceptional in the United States due to the demand for nursing professionals. According to the BLS, the job growth rate is 45 percent, which is more than ten times the national average for all other careers.
Nursing is rated #4 in "Best Healthcare Jobs," #5 in "100 Best Jobs" and #5 in "Best STEM Jobs," according to U.S. News & World Report. Working nurses find job satisfaction in service, and experts agree that "at the end of the day, that's what motivates these professionals – the opportunity to help people."
Nursing Success Story: Kody Holt
Kody Holt is a nursing student completing his final semester in Spring Arbor's online MSN-NP program. Kody is a full-time working RN with a family and other personal responsibilities.
Although Kody was originally anxious at the thought of balancing his work and home life, he was pleased by the flexibility and support that’s available to nurses.
"I was a little bit nervous about the workload and the intensity of the program, and it was a very rigorous program, and it challenged me and constantly pushed me to new heights.
Even though it was intense, I was still able to keep working as a nurse, and I was still able to continue dedicating time to my family and continue to have a social life outside of this.
This was partially made possible because of the awesome format of the seven-week on and one-week off format that Spring Arbor uses."
Nursing students like Kody require highly flexible program structures that allow students to log into classes on their own time and take breaks to recharge throughout the semester.
"You go to class for seven weeks and focus on only one class, which has been very helpful for me. Then you take one week off and take a breather before you begin your next class," Kody says regarding Spring Arbor's 7-1-7 format.
With 2020 coming to a close, you can open new pathways in your nursing career and your life with Spring Arbor's online MSN program.
Continue Your Success
Continue to celebrate your accomplishments by starting the next chapter in your life. Spring Arbor's online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program is uniquely designed for working nurses.
Those interested in advancing their careers benefit from Spring Arbor's faith-based education delivered with flexibility and support. As an MSN student, you can:
- Earn your degree while continuing to work full-time
- Enjoy a week off in between classes and recharge with the 7-1-7 model (7-week courses, 1-week break)
- Learn from engaged faculty as you join a caring community
- Grow professionally, personally, and spiritually through a faith-based curriculum
- Receive personalized support every step of your journey until graduation
- Join other inspiring alumni and graduate prepared to earn your national certification (ANCC or AANP) with strong licensure pass-rates (88% for first-time test-takers, 100% for second-time test-takers)
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