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There were around 140,000 registered nurses (RNs) in our country in 2012, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a huge increase in the last ten years.
There are a number of reasons as to why this increase took place, and many of these reasons are still true today. Indeed, we can see what some of the future job trends for nurse practitioners are by looking at these growth figures. In addition, a number of new trends have emerged as well.
- A Lack of Primary Care Professionals
There is a significant shortage of primary care physicians in our country today. As a result, policies, and procedures have had to be put in place to give nurses additional responsibilities. This has made the growth over the past ten years possible, and we will continue to see the workforce grow in the future. Nurse practitioners now go above and beyond delivering bedside care, with some being able to order tests, prescribe medication, and make other important decisions in terms of patient care and policy development.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a growth of around 19% in this field by 2020, well above the national average.
- Increased Need for Specialized Knowledge
There will be a significant increase in the need for specialized knowledge in nursing. The health needs of the population are changing as we are dealing with people who become increasingly old, but who deal with a range of problems such as obesity and obesity-related illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes. Additionally, people will require more at-home care, as they try to stay out of the health care system (and the health care system tries to keep them out as well). Diseases are becoming increasingly complex and there are significant concerns about pandemic outbreaks, all of which will require highly specialized knowledge.
- Higher Demand for Academics
One certain trend is that there will be a very high demand in academics over the coming years, in particular nurses who have obtained their Ph.D. This is because the members of the faculty staff are aging and will soon be retiring. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has reported that the average age of a nurse with a Ph.D. in 2011 was 56.4 years. Those who have gone on to become professors are 60.5 years old on average. Indeed, even those with a Master’s Degree who try to work at the professorial level are 57.7 years old. This demonstrates the incredible need for highly educated nurses, who will be able to take over the roles of educators in the very near future.
- Increased Demand for Staff in Outpatient Centers
Hospitals are under enormous pressure to have high turnover rates. They now discharge their patients as quickly as they can. However, these same patients will still require a certain level of care, just as they needed in the past. As such, outpatient care is in high demand. A recent survey conducted by the Clinical Advisor stated that over a quarter of all nurse practitioners currently work in offices. Nearly 20% worked in independent clinics and another 15% worked in a hospital clinic.
The projected growth in demand for outpatient care nurses is significant and is believed to be around 20%.
- More Demand for Nurse Practitioners in Underserved and Rural Areas
Rural areas and underserved areas will require far more outpatient care centers with specialized nurse practitioners. According to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, there will be a high demand for the four areas services provided by advanced practice nurse practitioners. These are nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialists. It is believed that this trend is due to the fact that there are far fewer licensed physicians in such areas. Indeed, there is now a shortage of some 20,000 physicians and this is predicted to increase further.
- Increased Primary Care Demand
Over the coming years, we will see an even greater increase in primary care demand. The biggest demand is in family care physicians, and they will require nurses on their staff as well. This is why becoming a nurse practitioner in family care is one of the best career choices out there, although oncology nurses will also be in high demand. There has already been a significant increase in nurses in family primary care, as has been reported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
The growth in demand for family care nursing is expected to surpass the average for nurses and currently stands at 22% by 2020.
- Being Recognized As Key Members of Healthcare
This increase in responsibilities is not solely due to the lack of primary physicians. It is also because nurses are finally getting the recognition they deserve. They are now important members of the healthcare workforce and their role is to deliver patient-centered care that is efficient and cost-effective. Now that nurses are being valued more, the career is becoming more interesting for many people and this is leading to significant growth in the workforce as well.
This trend applies to all nurse practitioners.