future of nursing

The future of nursing: emerging trends and opportunities for professional development

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Nursing is a work of heart and a crucial profession that serves people in need. If you are ready to expand your nursing skills and progress in your medical career, the future of nursing holds many opportunities for advancement. 

Whether you want to stay in your current branch of nursing or move to a new specialty, pursuing an advanced degree can open many doors. From nursing technology to gerontology, you can experience a new challenge within your realm of expertise. 

The future of nursing 

The future of nursing projects unlimited growth as an aging population needs care, and medical needs will always be present. Nursing is a critical part of effective medical care at every level. In the process of adapting to changing patient needs, there are some areas of nursing that will play a vital role.

First is the increasing technology that allows for more effective patient care. As a nurse, you can expect to train and utilize complex machines and features that deliver accurate information for the best care. Technology lets you advocate for your patients like never before, providing vital statistics to the rest of the medical care team so they can make the best decisions. 

Second is the advancement of nursing education. More practicing nurses than ever before are pursuing graduate degrees due to the availability of online courses that can fit into a busy schedule. This online coursework is flexible, allowing students to complete it on their own timetable and making the opportunity to earn an advanced degree more reachable. 

Third is the changing nursing workforce. Many people are moving to become nurses as a second career. An advantage to this shift is that these people are more mature and have work skills they bring to nursing that many new graduates have not attained. Whether it is managing people or exceptional technology skills, this new kind of nurse brings a fresh benefit to the nursing field. 

Choosing a graduate nursing degree

By the year 2030, the majority of baby boomers will be 65 years of age or older. This population shift will have a significant impact on nursing and the medical profession in general. In addition, people are living longer than ever before with amazing medical and technological advances. 

As this population ages, they will need expert nursing and medical care. In addition, the increase in acute medical problems means that the need for trained nurses will grow exponentially. 

A particular area of nursing need is gerontology. Focusing and expanding your nursing skills to care for a fragile population of older people can be enhanced with an online MSN-AGACNP. This master’s of science in nursing, provided by Rockhurst University, relates specifically to the unique needs of aging people. If the opportunity to create care plans for older adults with critical medical issues appeals to you, an online master’s of science in nursing as an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner could be the right path for you. 

Benefits of online instruction for graduate degrees

If you are unfamiliar with online graduate degrees, they have several significant benefits, especially for those wishing to continue working. The days of having to be physically on campus are no longer the norm. Many online programs are less expensive than attending in person, making them more affordable as you pursue your career goals. 

Second, you can record the lectures to watch at your convenience. However, the teachers are available to answer questions throughout the week. Having lectures and instruction that you can re-watch can improve your comprehension, making concepts easier to learn. 

Third, earning an online graduate degree shows your future employer that you have good time management skills, which can be a plus as you seek a promotion or career change. The flexible scheduling lets you complete the work when you have free time since you don’t have to spend time going to and from classes. 

Most online graduate programs have adjustable class offerings that let you finish a high-level degree at your own pace and on your timetable. 

Master of science dual degree nursing practitioner

An option for you to consider is the master of science in nursing practitioner dual track in which you earn two specializations: the family nurse practitioner and adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner. Holding both certifications can broaden your practice scope with a few additional courses. 

With two certifications, you can treat high-risk patients who require frequent monitoring and intervention and those patients who have medical issues that need comprehensive health maintenance and chronic condition management. Consider this dual degree that combines two specialized nurse disciplines into one advanced degree when you want the broadest clinical scope of practice. 

Emerging trends in nursing

The combination of an aging population with medical advances that aid longer lives is creating a need for specialized nursing care that focuses on the needs of older people. The current shortage of skilled nurses also creates an increased need for a trained nursing workforce, opening multiple opportunities for those who want to enter this medical profession. 

Another trend in nursing is the increasing demand for specialty nurses. A rapidly-growing population creates a greater need for trained nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals. However, there is a particular need for specialty nurses who are trained to handle the complex medical needs of aging adults, especially for long-term care, hospices, and other facilities that attend to elderly adults. 

 A third trend is the use of technology for this sector of the population. Digital tools are in every part of nursing, driving care choices and healthcare options. Innovations like remote care monitoring, virtual nursing assistance, robotic surgeries, and data analytics are changing the way patients receive care.

A fourth trend is an increased need for advanced practice nurses who can administer care at a higher level. The medical community needs more clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners with specialized skills, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives.

Adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner

This is a nurse practitioner with certifications in acute care, adult-gerontology acute care, or pediatric acute care who provide a broad spectrum of care to a particular group of people. They oversee complex monitoring and treatment plans for either pediatric or gerontology patients.

While monitoring and preventing future complications for your patients, you can work in long-term care facilities and acute care centers. Your patients would be physiologically unstable, highly vulnerable to complications, and technologically dependent. 

As an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, you enjoy broad autonomy in work settings. You can diagnose illnesses, order lab tests, and prescribe medication independently. This is one of the fastest-growing medical professions, an area that is projected to continue growing throughout the next two decades. 

This branch of nurse practitioners deals with a senior population, whereas family nurse practitioners attend to all ages. While diagnosing illnesses and prescribing care, you will deal with specific issues such as dementia, poor balance and falling, dehydration, and constipation that are characteristic of elderly adults. 

Responsibilities of an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner

While many acute care nurse practitioners care specifically for elderly people, you can also care for patients older than age thirteen who have acute, chronic, or critical medical conditions. With the ability to practice in a hospital, private clinic, hospice, or acute care facility, your responsibilities are varied. 

Learning your patients’ health histories can give you insight into the best care and treatment plans for them. The symptoms and health issues can lead you as you develop complex care plans to address the medical problems they face. 

Medical tests and lab results can help with prescribing medicines that aid your patients and improve their self-management options. Their feedback can allow you to adjust medications and treatments for better outcomes.

As you coordinate with other medical providers for these patients, your role on the medical team is essential to ensuring each medical plan addresses the symptoms and origins of a disease or condition. 

Responsibilities of adult-gerontology cardiovascular care nurse practitioner

The adult-gerontology cardiovascular nurse practitioner cares for people with cardiovascular disease, which often affects older adults. As a cardiac nurse practitioner, you have a broad range of scope in treating patients. 

The cardiovascular nurse practitioner diagnoses and treats congestive heart failure, myocardial infarctions (commonly known as heart attack), cardiac infections, aortic aneurysms, and valvular irregularities. This is a crucial role as a medical provider who educates and attempts to prevent heart disease. 

You can be part of a cardiothoracic surgical team by placing central lines, intubation, airway management, removal of epicardial wires, chest tube insertion and removal, thoracentesis, and more. Nurse practitioners who work in cardiac surgery have high-level skills as they assist cardiovascular surgeons. 

Three ways an adult-gerontology cardiovascular care nurse practitioner assists a surgeon

The first responsibility of the cardiovascular nurse practitioner is endoscopic vein harvesting. You are trained by equipment representatives or through online courses to harvest veins. It will take multiple times of vein harvesting with a preceptor before you feel comfortable completing the procedure alone. 

A second responsibility for the cardiovascular nurse practitioner is suturing and advanced wound closure. You learn this in a comprehensive wound suturing course. 

Third, you should plan to learn robotics and thoracoscopy.

These skills are essential for the cardiac nurse practitioner, in addition to seeing patients in the physician’s office, rounding at the hospital to check on surgical patients, and discharging patients with a home care plan.

The professional goals of an adult-gerontology cardiovascular care nurse practitioner

Entering this field means you will have significant professional goals of using a person-centered approach to promote healthy aging and improved well-being. You would be part of a medical team that helps older people adapt to life and health changes.

Done well, this medical profession encompasses a dynamic mix of geriatric and gerontology care in the context of the life experiences of your patients. The best scenario is when you collaborate with your patients to advocate for them and maximize their functional living situation. 

Evidence-based care involves end-of-life decisions, the preference to age in place without being displaced from familiar surroundings, and protection from abuse from family members and friends. 

Another professional goal can involve planning and participation in making policies in the local and state government as advocates for the elderly population. 

Nursing fields related to gerontology  

There are several nursing fields related to gerontology that can be options for you as a nurse practitioner focusing on an older group in the population. You might consider one of these specialties if caring for elderly patients is your preference. 

Aiding geriatric social workers 

Geriatric social workers focus on the needs of those who are 65 and older. Many elderly people do not have family members who will look out for them in the various ways they need as they age. 

Along with the social workers, you can help them identify organizations and other helps to attain what they need for medical care, food, and other life essentials. Gerontology is a broad field of professionals who work together to apply evidence-based care in many areas of an older person’s life. Your nursing background combined with those who focus on the social aspects of the elderly community can prove to be an excellent combination.

Nursing home administrator

Your degree fits well with the responsibilities of a nursing home administrator. This can be an especially-perfect fit for someone who has chosen adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner as a second career since it focuses on the business side of nursing administration. 

While you oversee the daily business and activities of a nursing home, you are part of the medical care team, too. Since many baby boomers are aging to a place of needing long-term care, the need for nursing home spaces is growing quickly. 

Caring for a fragile segment of the population is a noble career and one that fits well with a gerontology nurse practitioner’s background. 

Home care gerontology nurse practitioner

This branch of gerontology focuses on the complex needs of older people who remain at home but need medical oversight. It can involve handling complicated medical equipment, administering medicines, and evaluating the health of the patient. 

If you like the idea of seeing various patients for evidence-based medical care and oversight, this could be the right opportunity for you. Traveling to the homes of patients gives you flexibility and autonomy in caring for the elderly people who live at home.

Long-term care nursing 

As a long-term care nurse practitioner, you partner with a team of medical professionals to administer care to patients who have chronic illnesses. Working with doctors, social workers, physical therapists, and other professionals, you plan out the best care for those people who need assistance with daily living. 

You oversee specialized medical treatments and administer medications as needed. You will also be an integral part of emotional and educational assistance to patients and their family members who live with them. 

There are many opportunities in assisted living facilities, memory care facilities, and home care situations. 

Gerontology research nurse practitioner

While you would no longer be providing hands-on care for older patients, this is a crucial field that helps medical professionals plan the best care possible for many people. 

You would plan and execute randomized control trials of medications and treatments. Gerontology research involves structured literature reviews that lead to small qualitative studies and standardized surveys that can yield important information about this age group.

Ongoing research is critical to understanding the changing needs of the geriatric population. Combined with your professional nursing background, a career as a gerontology researcher is an important way to advance the highest care standards. 

Benefits of working with older patients as a gerontology nurse practitioner

When you decide to expand your nursing career into a gerontology nurse practitioner, know that this is a valuable medical profession with high growth and numerous opportunities. Aside from the options for working in various settings, multiple benefits make this a rewarding profession.

You help patients with limited mobility, reduced bone density, and urinary incontinence. This stage of life is difficult for most people who are experiencing dramatic physical and life changes. 

They also grapple with memory loss, cognitive decline, and decreased resistance to infections. Add to those physical challenges the frequent necessity of moving from a place they have lived for many years and you have a unique demographic that needs many types of assistance. 

A defining aspect of becoming an adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner is that in some areas, you can treat patients from early adulthood to the end-of-life stage. 

While caring for patients facing such challenges is a challenge, caring for someone through a difficult season of life can be personally fulfilling.

Elderly patient advocacy

The unfortunate reality is that elderly people are more likely to experience abuse from family members and others. Their circumstances of memory issues make them less likely to recognize and report neglect and abuse.

As a gerontology nurse practitioner, you can be an advocate and voice for your patients. Whether you help them heal from surgery or recover from illness, there is a tremendous amount of satisfaction in knowing you helped those who cannot help themselves. Gerontological nursing is a critical and rewarding field, and that people considering a change in careers should also consider its many benefits. 

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