The future of nursing is uncertain at this time. We have a severe shortage of nurses, especially Registered Nurses, and the problem is only going to get worse. We are seeing the need to get creative and change the way we do things. As we move forward, the RN is going to take on a stronger role in leadership, moving even further from the bedside. We have already started to train our unlicensed support staff to take on more of the technical responsibilities, such as inserting Foley catheters, dressing changes, and even starting IVs. We are giving our LPN's more responsibility at the bedside. They are giving more IV push medications, hanging blood and giving chemotherapy. In many states, they take a full assignment, just like the RN. This is the direction healthcare must go to make sure they can deliver safe and adequate care to their patients.
Eventually, I see RN's being behind the scenes. They will have the responsibility of being in charge of their units. There will be two or three RNs, overseeing several LPN’s and nursing techs. Registered Nurse’s hold the majority of clinical management positions, in most facilities now and the opportunities are there for the RN to move further away from the bedside. Because of the physical demands of nursing today, many Registered Nurses are looking for just such opportunities. Many hospitals and nursing homes already have CEO’s and key leadership teams, which are made up of RNs.
Many Registered Nurses are seeking higher education. Clinical ladder's are already in place at many institutions, giving the nurse more incentive to go back to school and get a BSN or MSN. Many nursing organizations are offering disease specific certifications, which make the Registered Nurse more marketable. Magnet status institutions are requiring their nurses to acquire more education and many colleges and universities are offering dual masters degrees in Health Care Administration and nursing.
As nursing moves forward and our roles change so will the need for higher education. The Registered Nurse will play a more intricate role in the planning of patient's care, working closer with the physician, thus requiring the Registered nurse to rely more on her knowledge and assessment skills and less on her abilities at the bedside. The future of the Registered Nurse is evolving and although scary, it is a very exciting time to be a nurse.
Happy Nurses Week!!!