What Will the Nurse of the Future Look Like?

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Nurse of the FutureEver wonder how your job as a nurse might change in 10, 20 or 50 years from now? While no one knows for certain what the future holds, we can make some educated guesses on the future of health care based on research in the present.

For example, the nurse of the future might:

  1. Work for a retailer
  2. Have an advanced degree
  3. Have a robot assistant
  4. Be miles away from the patient
  5. Be well-versed in cultural competencies

Let’s look closer at what these predictions mean in more detail:

Nursing in retail clinics

Rather than report to work at a doctor’s office or hospital ward, many nurses and nurse practitioners will punch in at a retail store in the near future. FierceHealthcare reports urgent care clinics that treat patients with acute but non-life-threatening conditions will continue to proliferate in the U.S.

Walmart, Walgreens, Target and CVS are adding clinics to retail locations across the country. And Pennsylvania-based Geisinger Health Systems has also joined the mix, opening 17 Careworks clinics in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Retail-based clinics are expected to grow to 3,000 locations by 2016, according to the Convenient Care Association.

More nurses with advanced degrees

In the future, nurses are much more likely to have a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree. Part of this push is due to more hospitals seeking magnet status, which requires all nurse managers to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing or higher.

Along with this trend is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s recommendation to increase the proportion of nurses with a bachelor’s degree to 80 percent by 2020, and to double the amount of nurses with doctorate degrees. The latest figures show that this movement is on track. As of 2013, 51 percent of nurses have a BSN and 14,688 nurses are enrolled in a doctorate program.

Nurse robot assistants

Your co-worker in the future might look like R2D2 or C-3PO. Some hospitals around the country are already using robots to run errands, according to a CIO article. The robots can deliver supplies to wards and transport blood samples to the lab. They can help do the heavy lifting for nurses, thereby decreasing workplace injury rates.

Japan has embraced robots to go beyond doing simple errands and take on more caregiving tasks. Using robots is a way to cope with the country’s aging population and decreasing number of young people to care for the elderly. These robots look like teddy bears and can lift and carry patients.

Remote nurse jobs

With the evolution of remote monitoring technologies, not every nurse will be required to be by the bedside in order to deliver quality care.

  • Chronic conditions such as diabetes will be monitored through mobile apps.
  • Senior citizens will be more likely to stay in their homes.
  • Patients in the intensive care ward will be monitored by a nurse who’s miles away.

The Carolinas HealthCare System remotely monitors ICUs in rural hospitals, according to an NPR report. One of the advantages reported with this model was remote nurses are better able to spot the warning signs of an infection by watching trending white blood cell counts, for example.

Cultural competence in nursing

As the U.S. population becomes even more diverse, the need for nurses who are trained in providing culturally competent care will become greater. Nurses need to learn the cultural differences patients may have, such as:

  • Rituals surrounding birth and death
  • Attitudes about family involvement when a family member is sick
  • Beliefs about the causes of illnesses

This knowledge is vitally important to make patients feel more at ease in a health care setting.

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