By Anne Dabrow Woods
Nurses are the largest and most trusted group of healthcare professionals in the world today. Individually and collectively, they play a greater role in care delivery than ever before. As this group of professionals support and care for people during some of the most significant moments in their lives, nurses constantly endeavor to bridge the gap between science and art to positively impact patient outcomes.
In tandem with their elevated standing in the industry, nurses also face a growing landscape of challenges that require nursing leaders to recognize evolving industry trends and utilize the proper strategies and tools to address them. To better understand nursing in the context of healthcare, seven macro trends have been identified to illustrate where the profession sits today, as well as where it may be headed.
1. Learning from our past strengthens our future
During the 1850s, Florence Nightingale changed the face of nursing while caring for British soldiers during the Crimean War. Realizing that soldiers weren’t simply casualties of war but were also dying of infection and disease, she took the lead to change those dynamics by properly nourishing and hydrating soldiers and cleaning up the facility. Most importantly, she taught her nursing staff how to appropriately tend to and care for wounds.
Because of the work Nightingale did, nurses today have more autonomy than ever before. In addition, other nursing pioneers such as Clara Barton, Mary Eliza Mahoney, Dorothy Dix and Virginia Henderson took nursing from an occupation that follows the orders of a physician to one that is in complete control of its own practice. Nurses today can continue that trend by taking what we learn from all aspects of the healthcare continuum to better educate and inform our entire body of practice.
2. The concept of healthcare is changing — resources make all the difference
The pressure to deliver quality care is at an all-time high due to growing demand for healthcare services and the proportion of higher-acuity patients. To give patients the best treatment, resources must be readily available to all nurses when and where they need it.
For instance, when healthcare institutions and professionals implement evidence, they also need to consider their priorities and utilize strategies to minimize variations in care. Healthcare models continue to shift toward wellness, which means nurses must have access to key patient data such as social determinants of health to proactively help people better manage their conditions.