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Changes for the Better in Nursing

Updated on February 15, 2017

The Changes

Many changes are allegedly in store for nurses in the coming years. There is much literature discussing new avenues for nurses to make a name for themselves and for the field as a whole to take a greater level of prominence in the health care community. The most well known of these pieces is a commission written by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2010 outlining a series of goals. This presentation will outline several directions in which the field of nursing is moving, and briefly explain the ways these changes will benefit the health care community.

Nurse Managed Health Clinics

Consistently, studies reveal an improved level of care for patients in facilities with higher rates of baccalaureate educated nurses when compared to lower level degrees (Blegen, Goode, Park, Vaughn, & Spetz, 2013). This fact opens the door wide for nurses taking on greater and greater levels of responsibility within the health care system. Traditionally, nurses have been thought of as assistants to doctors. This notion is even mentioned in the Florence Nightingale Pledge (American Nurses Association, 2016). But traditionally, nurses only went to school for two years whereas doctors went for eight years. It makes sense that the less educated person should assist the more educated person. But as nurses are moving into higher levels of education and are learning more about health care management, the balance is shifting in favor of nurse run medical facilities.

Continuum of Care

The Affordable Care Act (2010) was signed into law in 2010, conveniently coincided with the IOM’s commission to the nursing community to involve themselves in management of patient care. Nurses are heavily responsible for discharge and intake of patients, and as such are in a position to improve continuity of care between medical facilities. The ACA calls for improved patient tracking across multiple facilities and medical staff for better quality care and to ensure that proper communication about patients’ conditions is occurring. Miscommunication about patient care can have deadly consequences, and nurses are in a position to reduce the instances of these negligent acts.

Accountable Care Organizations

There already exist organizations that utilize a network of health care workers to provide health continuity of care, and these are called Accountable Care Organizations (ACO). Such organizations would benefit from greater input from the nursing community which is now more educated in administrative roles and can involve itself more heavily in the shaping of such organizations. Nurses are in a prime position to work with these facilities, having the proper balance of medical knowledge and administrative skill (Moffa, 2011).

Medical Homes

All medical homes would in fact benefit from increased nursing involvement in administration, due to having a different perspective on health care and patient priorities than physicians who traditionally fill administrative roles. This fact combined with the increasing levels of education seen throughout the field means that nursing will greatly benefit medical homes even at lower levels. Having a nurse working on the floor with a baccalaureate degree means that patients are more likely to receive a high quality of care and have their needs met from the physical to the spiritual in scope. As such, nursing will bring greater benefits to medical homes in the near future (Moffa, 2011).

Conclusion

An increase in nursing education has led to a nursing workforce that is much more competent and capable of independent thought than it once was. As a result, nurses are seeking more authority in the health care system and are receiving it, but incrementally. Though the gap between nurses and doctors may never truly be breached, nurses are showing a greater aptitude for administrative and leadership tasks than ever before. The majority of the people presented with this information agreed with this assessment.

References

American Nurses Association (2016). Florence Nightingale pledge. Retrieved January 1, 2016 from http://www.nursingworld.org/FlorenceNightingalePledge

Blegen, M. A., Goode, C. J., Park, S. H., Vaughn, T., Spetz, J. (2013). Baccalaureate education in nursing and patient outcomes. Journal of Nursing Administration, 43(2), 89-94.

Institute of Medicine (2010). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. Retrieved January 5, 2017 from http://www.nap.edu/read/12956/chapter/1

Moffa, C. M. (2011). What’s the sound of 3 million nurses? Finding our voices. The American Journal of Nursing, 111(4), 7.

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