Think You Know What Nursing Is?

a nurse looking over her shoulderHow the Nursing Profession Has Changed in 5 Different Ways

Up until the 19th century, nursing was not considered as an actual profession; it was up to the nuns to look after the wounded or the generally unwell. The increasing number of war casualties, however, resulted in a rise in the demand for people to look after the wounded. During World War I and World War II, multitudes of women started joining their national military forces as nurses. It was after the war when people started taking nursing more seriously as a normal profession. Nursing has become one of the largest segments of the healthcare workforce in the United States. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, more than 3 million nurses are practicing in the U.S. The field of nursing has been through several changes throughout history; yet, this is not the end. On the other hand, the current changes in the field are considered the most drastic changes it will ever experience.

Here are 5 ways the nursing profession has changed over the years, and continues to change:

1. Nursing specialties and roles

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, new nurses entering the workforce by 2022 will be the new face of the profession. They will advance in in-demand specialties, such as home-health nurse, geriatric nursing, and telemedicine nurse, along with specialty niches like an oncology or transplant nurse. Nurses of the future will also have to do more, such as developing simulation technology and establishing a public health practice in a rural library. In addition, nurses are not just following doctors around, responding to their orders. Today, they are responsible for such things as handling medical emergencies without consulting with a doctor.

2. Telemedicine and Technology

Smartphones and the creation of nursing-specific applications have changed the face of nursing, as well. Hospitals now can use nursing applications to track and capture very important metrics like real-time vital signs, medication delivery, and pain scales. With telemedicine, nurses are able to take part in remote consults and deliver care directly to the person in their home.

3. Training

Nursing training used to be basic and generalized – everyone was taught the same principles. However, everything changed after the U.S Nurse Training Act of 1964 which resulted in more concentrated university-supported nursing education. Today, there are qualifications for nurses that are specific and include degree programs. Nurses can be trained as specialists, earn advanced degrees, and garner certifications along the way. Nurses are also expected to have good “customer service” skills – or to be more person-centered, because they do interact with the patients more. They deal with complex health issues and are expected to not only provide compassionate care, but care that meets the needs of the patient.

4. Salary

Salaries of nurses continue to grow. RN salary information on the Web shows that the average gross wage of an RN in 2015 was $73,000 and $102,000 for a nurse practitioner. In 2018, according to the Nurse Salary Guide, the average salary for an RN is $79,000 and the average salary for a nurse practitioner is $107,480. In general, you can expect this trend to continue as the rise in the demand for healthcare workers grows. Highest paid states are California, Alaska, and Hawaii; the lowest paid are Tennessee, Alabama, and West Virginia.

nurse taking a blood sample

5. Patient Care

With technology advancements, changing every day, nurses are able to make patient care more efficient, as well as make their own jobs easier. The documentation has always been vital to the job, but today there are added ethical and legal considerations that influence how nurses do their job. Nurses are able to share information electronically, which allows them to efficiently manage care and improve the quality of that care.

Looking back at all those changes in specialties, technology, training, salary and patient care, a couple of things come to mind. It can’t be helped to look upon the first handful of nurses with admiration; how they have managed to pave the way for today’s millions of nurses. It truly is impressive how the field has been through such amount of radical changes; from a side-service to a well recognized, well-respected profession. As for the future, we can say with confidence that the field will only go through changes for the better; it is the age of technological advancement after all. Also, it is highly possible that the nurses of tomorrow will get even more recognition, as well as, appreciation for their services; saving lives is no easy feat, and these men and women do it every day.

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