The Future of Nursing: 2023 and Beyond

The future of nursing remains bright. Among other trends, the country's aging population in need of healthcare and an existing nursing shortage bode well for career opportunities for nursing candidates and nurses committed to their profession.

Nursing Trends

The need to focus on nurses' mental and physical health has gained greater attention as COVID-19 stressed the healthcare system and clinicians. Moving forward, more emphasis will be placed on nurses' self-care and the acceptance of asking for help when needed.

"Nurses are the backbone of our healthcare system, and we need to take care of them," said Cindy Gaines, MSN, RN, Chief Clinical Transformation Officer at Lumeon in Boston.

"After being thrust into the current shortage so abruptly, the focus on nurse well-being is more important than ever. We saw how many nurses left during the pandemic, feeling overwhelmed and burned out. Today, staffing shortages are creating a different but just as chaotic and stressful environment."

2023 Nursing Trends

Gaines suggests that some employers will be changing care models and employing new technologies to reduce workloads for nurses in this coming year. She pointed out how the pandemic accelerated the acceptance of virtual care, which is now here to stay.

"The best way to help nurses is to focus on what makes their jobs efficient and satisfying and letting them do what they became nurses to do," Gaines added.

The future of nursing will include adapting work to the expectations of new generations of nurses.

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"In the upcoming year, healthcare employers will need to quickly adapt to Gen-Z needs as more graduates and new nurses enter the workforce," says Katherine Virkstis, Vice President of Clinical Advisory Services at Get Well in Bethesda, Maryland. "This new generation of employees expects healthcare employers to focus on three basic needs: early mastery, social connections, and professional development.

Nursing Specialties in Demand

With an aging population and patients with more complex conditions, skilled nurses are needed across the country. Indeed.com reports the highest paying specialties are for nurses practicing in intensive care units, telemetry, labor and delivery, emergency department, oncology, and operating room.

Many of those specialties also create high demand for travel nurses. The future of travel nursing includes fabulous opportunities for critical care nurses to staff intensive care and progressive care units, emergency nurses, medical-surgical nurses, and operating room/surgical nurses, among others.

2023 Trends in Travel Nursing

The ongoing demand for experienced nurses means the future of travel nursing remains strong.

"Hospitals are still very dependent on agency nurses to fill gaps," Gaines said.

Travel assignments typically span 13 weeks and give nurses an opportunity to learn new ways of doing things and explore different parts of the country. Housing expenses, travel expenses, and daily stipends are covered, and travel nurses can enjoy many of the same employment benefits as permanent staff.

Agencies like AMN Healthcare are recognizing the stress associated with continuing high acuities and beds full of sick patients, and are adding benefits to address mental health and workplace stress as part of their employee assistance programs.

Nursing Trends Beyond 2023

The nursing shortage will likely continue beyond 2023 as nurses retire or leave patient care, whether to change professions or gain more education in order to become nurse practitioners.

"The nursing shortage is not a new phenomenon, neither is the nurse faculty shortage. The literature has been replete sounding the alarm for the last decade," said Elizabeth Speakman EdD, RN, ANEF, FNAP, FAAN, Senior Associate Dean of Nursing at the University of Delaware, School of Nursing in Newark.

Gaines said "the nursing shortage is worse than anticipated, with nurses retiring or leaving due to fatigue or burnout. The future of nursing needs these skilled professionals."

"The focus now must be: How do we unburden nurses from unnecessary work so they can focus on patient care?," she added. Organizations are looking at different care models, such as team nursing, and to technology solutions that can automate many of the manual tasks that currently fall to nursing staff.

Virkstis anticipates leaders will elevate their commitment to workplace safety, employing digital and smart technology, which can make safety and security more transparent, enable more effective communication, help track the location of individuals, add a layer of fail-safe security measures in case incidents do occur and make it easier and faster to understand lessons learned.

"Healthcare leaders will build comprehensive plans that combine high-tech with high-touch strategies," Virkstis said.

Contact AMN Healthcare

AMN Healthcare, founded with a mission to provide the highest quality of travel nursing jobs, integrates travel assignments with career consultation. Our support team helps nurses focus on moving their careers onward and upward, and on building strong experiences.

AMN Healthcare can match nurses with thousands of possible assignments, including positions at top teaching and ANCC Magnet facilities.

Once on assignment, travel nurses can call clinical managers any time of the day or night to answer questions.

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