Mary Kay Loughran, DNP, MHA, RN
It is a great time to pursue a nursing career. While the demand for nurses in traditional settings remains, there are also many job opportunities available beyond the hospital setting.
As caring for the sick has become more complex, nurses continue to adapt to meet those challenges. Our society is getting older as people live longer and there is an increased rate of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer, and other conditions. To meet patient needs nurses have become specialists in these areas through bedside experiences or advanced education and certification. As a result nurses are more effective healthcare team members and significantly contribute to patient care.
The Affordable Care Act, passed in March, 2010, provided new opportunities for nurses to deliver care and play an integral role in reshaping the healthcare system. The focus of this act stresses the importance of community-based primary care, case management, and mid-level care which places advanced practice nurses, community health nurses, and home care nurses at the helm of many of these initiatives. Nurse practitioners have eased the impact of the shortage of Primary Care physicians by practicing to the fullest extent of their license as recommended by The Institute of Medicine. They work with physicians to provide holistic and cost effective care.
New healthcare technology has also created opportunities for nurses. Some nurses have become information technology experts at their organization or with a healthcare software company. Nurses have enthusiastically embraced technology and we are good at it. We realize the value it brings to patients and their health outcomes. Nurses are involved with electronic medical records, mobile devices that monitor a patient’s blood sugar level, or app development to be used by an at-risk mother and her unborn child.
As you see, nurses are positioned to provide leadership in all healthcare areas. Our formal nursing education makes us well equipped to be effective leaders as executives, managers, quality improvement officers, educators, and researchers. Some nurses have also decided to take their nursing skills to areas outside of the profession and have made significant contributions in government, politics, and law. Opportunities are abundant for nurses. The basic foundation of our education provides us with the tools to be successful in whatever path we choose.