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On Call: Leadership in Nursing

What’s on the Horizon for Nursing in 2016?

Published March 8, 2016 3:42 PM by Martie Moore

After recently giving a presentation on Florence Nightingale, I mused on the changes nursing has seen through the ages. For example? In 1887, one rule for nurses stated that any nurse who smoked, used liquor in any form, got her hair done at a beauty shop or frequented a dance hall would "give the director of nurses good reason to suspect her worth, intentions, and integrity." I would have been kicked out of nursing based on my hair care alone! While the trends and changes we are seeing for nursing in 2016 have nothing to do with our hair salons, they are still things worthy of notice.

Specialty Shortage

First of all, we are facing an ongoing nursing shortage. In 2012, the RN vacancy rate was at 4.4%; it ticked forward to 4.6% in 2013, and rose again to 5.9% in 2014. Specialty areas are the hardest hit due to high retirement rates and difficulty in recruitment. Those areas include perioperative, critical care, emergency and, in some regions, labor and delivery. These specialized areas take developed skills, making it difficult to take new, inexperienced nurses and plug them in right away. It takes time to fill these roles; meanwhile, the shortage keeps rising. Hospitals are offering signing bonuses, loan forgiveness, and other alluring offers to draw candidates in. However, in some cases, it means nurses are moving from hospital to hospital based on the offered incentives. This isn't solving the problem; it's simply reallocating the current resources.

This shortage isn't a new problem. We may currently be seeing it most in the specialty areas, but be aware that this shortage will trickle down. We need to continue to assure that nurses practice to the full scope of their license and remain hungry for ways to put evidence-based information to practice. This can be done through online courses. Some 40,000 courses are taken by healthcare professionals monthly through Medline University online, for example, which offers free educational opportunities.

We also need to have programs in place to help new nurses who choose specialties to get all the training, experience and exposure they need to become valuable team members.

Supply Chain

Another big trend I am excited to see in 2016 is giving nurses a seat at the supply chain table. You may not be invited to have a seat at the table; you may have to make yourself a seat. Nursing needs to be present, because supply chain decision-making can no longer be just about price: It has to be about performance, too. Products need to be intuitive to practice, and clinicians need to have clear understanding of the benefit of using a particular product. Cost for products is not always found just in the number on the invoice. If the product does not integrate well into the nurse's workflow on the floor, they will develop workarounds. There could be waste and lack of efficiency, both of which lead to increased costs, many times lost in the overall expense of delivering care.

The most important thing to understand in getting nurses involved in supply chain decisions is that this isn't about one side winning or losing. Supply chain product decisions affect both patients and nurses, but at the same time, nurses need to understand the supply chain world too. It's about aligning incentives to the performance of the organization. The future of supply chain involves nurses, with a goal of creating one team for true collaboration.

Now It's Your Turn

I am eager to see what the future brings for nursing in 2016 and beyond. While we are facing some challenges, there is so much promise in the growth of the profession, especially in terms of collaboration outside of our normal practice in the units and on the floors.

Each month, we'll tackle a different issue facing the profession and provide unique insight, perspective and tips about how to face it, head-on. 

What are some of your predictions for the future of nursing in 2016 and how will you as a nurse leader make it happen?  Share your comments below.

 

5 comments

Martie's comments on nurses involvement in supply chain decisions is so right on.  Nurses who use the equipment day in and day out need a say in what is purchased for them to do their jobs.  When "kits" are made there are often extra items or outdated items included causing the nurse to have to run around and collect the most current solution.  

Nurses also need to find their voices.  We don't have to have one collective voice except where it comes to safety and respect of both patients and ourselves. We also need to be involved whenever there is legislation pending that may affect our practice.  How can we continue to allow lawmakers who may know very little about the practice of nursing to pass laws that affect our practice.  Do you know what bills are pending before your state legislature? My students think I'm crazy when I encourage them to be activists.  They don't have enough time for family, school and job, how can I expect them to be activists.  How can you afford NOT to be.  I ramble but Martie's blog really got me going.  Yes, we have shortages in many specialties and many areas of the country.  We will continue to do so as long as we allow other people tell us how to practice nursing.  Thank you Martie!  

Rebecca Fowler, Proprietary Education - Faculty , Breckinridge School of Nursing March 31, 2016 4:40 PM
Overland Park KS

As the baby boomer retire new career alternatives for experienced RNs open doors, measures of quality from old school vs new school?

CAM  RN  yogis & meditations, RN author, diets, RN palmistry for social medians in shut in communities focusing on preventable healthy options so challenge medical models of pills in poly pharm modes. Exercise as medicine & food fresh vs over processed &  Alcohol as antilipid methods vs substance abuse bring exciting new debates for approached to improve longevity, fertility, & model in this new century era

Ms carol Anaski-Figurski RN BSN rev , Self employed - RN BSN rev , Independent RN consultant & clergy March 31, 2016 4:30 PM
Oswego IL

Nursing has come so far in the past 10-15 years and yet we continue to have others address our problems and determine our worth.  Nurses are a valued part of the healthcare team and we need to hold a seat at as many tables that affect what we do each and every day.  It is through our voice and actions that we will be able to make the most out of what we have to give and provide to those we serve.

Cheryl Thaler, nursing - Director, FHW March 31, 2016 8:47 AM
Tavares FL

This is nothing new. Not much as changed in 30 years. Nurses, whether it is a personality trait or because they are helpers, they cannot unite in a common goal.

Patricia Kelly, Retired March 23, 2016 9:38 PM
ME

I think the future of nursing is at a cross roads - we will either continue the status quo, clawing our way into decisions, such as supply chains, like mentioned. Or we will continue to ride the wave of unity that was spurred last year by Miss Colorado. I feel the tides changing. Bedside nurses are being devalued, yet starting to find their voice. If we do not learn to step up to have a voice that impacts our profession, our patients will suffer and as well as our profession. It will be an interesting next few years as the shortage looms and critical decisions in our profession will need to be made... excited to have a front row seat!

Joan, Clinical Instructor / Blogger / Author March 10, 2016 9:35 PM
Hudson FL

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