Trends Predicted to Impact Nurses

Nursing leaders identify critical issues and opportunities for nurses.

In January 2010, contributor Debra Wood, RN, asked national nursing leaders to identify critical issues and opportunities for the profession of nursing. The responses were fairly consistent, with healthcare reform cited frequently. Reform is expected to not only increase the need for additional nurses, but also expand the role of the nurse. Many of those interviewed agreed that nurses will likely fill the gaps in primary care that are expected to occur as more people have health insurance, the Baby Boom population ages, and chronic conditions become even more commonplace. Home health and lifestyle education/disease prevention are expected to be huge areas for growth. Nursing leaders also projected the need for nurses with knowledge of genetics and forensics. One nurse leader commented that there will be a continued need for nurses in acute settings and that the care delivered in these settings will remain highly intense or intensify even further.

These predictions are not surprising given the current state of health reform initiatives. I found it reassuring that in this great debate, no one has said that nurses are not integral to the healthcare delivery system and/or should be replaced by other, less qualified, providers. I foresee a need for nurses to take this opportunity to step up to the plate and lead the transformation of healthcare in the USA.