Future of Nursing in America: 10 Things to Keep in Mind

A recent report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) entitled “The Future of Nursing 2020-2030” presents an insightful analysis of the current conditions and what lies ahead for the industry.

To share with you some handy takeaways from the said IOM report, we have listed down the things to keep in mind as you steer through the future of nursing in the US:

1. More trained nurses to serve an aging population

The US Census Bureau estimates that by 2031, 21% of the US population, or around 73.1 million people, will be older than 65. This forecast translates to the growing demand for qualified nurses to care for the aging population in the foreseeable future. To better prepare for this surge, the education system also needs to train nurses to practice in community-based settings, where caring for diverse people will have to be handled well.

2. Effects of COVID-19 on the nursing workforce

The pandemic has undoubtedly strained and stretched the healthcare system to its limits. Likely, nurses will increasingly cope with the long-term impacts of physical exhaustion, fatigue, and stress. Some will need more help from their support systems, while others might exit their nursing careers.

3. The need for platforms that will groom a generation of diverse nurse leaders

The report suggests that it is imperative to build a diverse nursing workforce for the US to achieve health equity. Nurse leaders must also be up for the vital job of hiring and mentoring nurses from traditionally underrepresented communities. Moreover, healthcare companies must also be at the forefront in providing nurses with opportunities, mentorship, and resources to hone their leadership capabilities.

4. Changing demographics

With an estimated 1.2 million Baby Boomer generation of RNs retiring, the workforce’s average age has gone down to 44. As a result, new entrants fortifying the workforce are changing the demographics. The nursing industry needs to consider this shift and work on easing the impact from patient care to new hires and hospital policies.

5. Internationally educated nurses on the decline

From 2007 to 2019, there has been a drop of more than 50% in first-time internationally educated nurses (IEN) taking the NCLEX-RN exam. Visa retrogression and the financial downturn of 2007 to 2009 are attributed to the decline. The drop in exam takers is particularly troubling as IENs comprise 8-15 percent of the United States’ nursing workforce.

6. Dip in number of registered nurses in the rural region

The country’s rural population is about to take a hit in accessing healthcare. Compared to a decade ago, fewer registered nurses are working now in rural parts of the US — 17 percent in 2005 versus 14.4 percent in 2018. In addition, rural practicing registered nurses (RNs) have been declining faster, from 16.4 percent to 14.9 percent, among nurses under age 40 than among nurses over 40. If this trend continues, rural Americans’ access to health care will be jeopardized.

7. Retirement of licensed practical nurses raising shortage concerns

Even though approximately one-third of Licensed Practical Nurse (LPNs) are beyond age 55, there is concern on how this will add to the possible scarcity of nurses in the coming decade. As a result of the shortage, the RN workforce may be called upon to offer more home care, long-term care, and care for people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.

8. Full-time employed nurses to double their numbers a decade from now

From approximately 158,000 Full-time employed nurse practitioners (FTE NPs) in 2016 to almost 400,000 FTE NPs in 2030, the number of FTE NPs is expected to be more than double. The NP workforce is forecast to grow at a 6.8% rate every year. It will help overcome projected physician shortages in primary care and specialized care during this decade.

9. Pandemic-induced shifts in demand and supply of nurses

The pandemic might cause fundamental alterations in nurse demand and supply in the long run. Significant reorganization of care delivery may occur on the demand side, such as a shift to telehealth or permanent personnel reductions in hospitals. The pandemic can raise or decrease opt-ins in nursing programs on the supply side.

10. Nurses to ensure future healthcare equity

Nurses have a critical part in ensuring healthcare equity as they reshape the future of nursing. However, to ensure that they are best suited to implement large-scale structural changes within the sector, they must embrace a more extensive role that maximizes their entire education and expertise. According to the report, the scope-of-practice legislation, public health initiatives, and reimbursement standards for Medicare and other payers will need to be revised as the role of nurses expands.

Worry-less as You Navigate the Future of Nursing

To meet the increasing demand for nurses in the US, PRS Global is committed to providing qualified candidates to companies in need of nurses. PRS Global has developed a system for linking skilled international nursing experts with healthcare providers in the United States through global sourcing and placement of healthcare professionals, especially nurses.

In addition, PRS Global has a transition program, which assists incoming nurses to ease into foreign living conditions. PRS Global addresses these bottlenecks and offers benefits such as reduced relocation fees, IELTS review aid, free legal advice on immigration matters if needed, and even Green Card sponsorship. Throughout the onboarding process, the nurses are well-supported so that they feel empowered, protected, and prepared to take on and deliver the best healthcare service.

Contact PRS Global and start a conversation on how your company can achieve healthcare stability as you face the future of nursing through the help of only the best healthcare staffing firm.