Healthcare Changes Demand a More Educated Workforce? header

Healthcare Changes Demand a More Educated Workforce

Nurses comprise the most significant number of healthcare professionals and the changing needs of healthcare impact nurses in multiple ways. The healthcare field is continually evolving and expanding; the nursing shortage continues to challenge nurses as well as offer expanded opportunities.

Major trends currently impacting nurses are the changing demographics in the patient and nursing workforce, opportunities stemming from the increasing complexity of healthcare delivery and insurance reform, increased use of technology, and increased collaboration with other nurses, healthcare providers and specialists.

These challenging changes demand a more educated workforce, and the current push for MAGNET certified hospitals require a predominantly BSN prepared workforce.

Nursing Shortage Remains Top Nursing Trend for 2018

According to Medscape, almost half of the current nursing workforce is moving towards retirement. The dwindling workforce combined with the increased demands for qualified nursing staff remains a pressing concern.

However, the changing demographics of the nursing workforce opens ups new challenges and opportunities, and the emerging nursing workforce will be more ethnically diverse, as well as more technologically astute, than ever before.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provided access to healthcare to millions of more Americans, increasing the demand for health-related services

Increased patient load and long wait times for care puts pressure on nurses to deliver care more efficiently

Staffing shortages and working extended shifts increases stress and can lead to potential errors

Stressed nurses may experience compassion fatigue, which may negatively impact patient outcomes

Changing Demographics of Nursing and Patient Populations

As older nurses retire, the nursing workforce is becoming more ethnically diverse and technologically knowledgeable. Nurses working in the field today must adapt their practices to include cultural sensitivity to overcome barriers and achieve the best patient outcomes.

Nurses must be politically and culturally competent in regards to national origin, religion, language, gender, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, and disability

Technology is Here to Stay

Technological advancements demand a tech-savvy nurse to negotiate electronic health records and the nuances of working in an electronic charting system. Some hospitals are going mobile and charting at the patient point of contact.

Nurses are challenged with new technology on a daily basis, with technology transforming the future of healthcare along with new devices, computers, and robots. Some other technological innovations in healthcare include:

Point of Care Technology

Electronic Health Records (EHR)

Electronic Lift Systems, Smart Beds and Computerized Staff Schedules

Patient and Staff Identification Systems

Increasing Opportunities for Non-traditional Nursing Roles

The aging nurse population, compounded by the increased access to healthcare through the ACA, has created the need for alternative methods to deliver quality healthcare. Qualified nurses today have ample opportunity in non-traditional work settings such as senior living or home health care.

Hospitals are venturing into new territories as well, opening separate facilities such as assistive living and rehab centers to stay competitive.

Drug and Alcohol Rehab

Senior Living

Home Health Care

Nursing Home


Mental health

Specialized school settings


Work environments

Educational Needs of Nurses Are Changing

In addition to educating more BSN and MSN prepared nurses, nurse educators need to equip nurses for the future of nursing. Nursing students will utilize simulated learning experiences more often. Today, nursing education demands efficient pathways to nursing preparedness with a focus on standardization of core learning.

Strong focus on BSN education for MAGNET preparedness

The Robert J Woods Foundation reports that research has linked higher levels of education for nurses with safer, high-quality care

More students attending online universities and colleges

In 2010 the Institute of Medicine’s “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health” reported that nurses should achieve advanced levels of education through an improved educational system that maximizes success and removes hurdles for academic progression

Nurses are experiencing more and more challenges in all areas of the field. A primary way for nurses to survive the ongoing changes and thrive in today’s demanding healthcare climate is by pursuing degree advancement.

The upward trajectory in the percentage of nurses with BSN degrees indicates nurses’ growing response to this demand.

In 2010, the percentage of BSN prepared nurses was 49%

In 2015, the rate of BSN prepared nurses was 53%

In 2016, the number of registered nurses obtaining a bachelor’s in nursing surpasses 60,000 which was a 170% increase since 2010

Healthcare is not going to become less complicated, and nurses will have to work faster and smarter to make positive impacts on patient outcomes. The current issues and trends in nursing are not only here to stay, but will become more focalized and intensified in the future.

Every nurse has the responsibility to learn and grow with the system to provide the best care possible. Contact us for more information on online RN to BSN programs.

If you are an employer interested in more information about GHE's healthcare schools and programs, visit our Employers page.