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Millennials embrace nursing



For Kaiser Health News

The days are long past when the only career doors that readily opened to young women were those marked teacher, secretary or nurse. Yet young adults who are part of the millennial generation are nearly twice as likely as Baby Boomers were to choose the nursing profession, according to a recent study.

These young people, born between 1982 and 2000, are also 60 percent more likely to become registered nurses than the Gen X’ers who were born between 1965 and 1981.

What gives?

“There’s no perfect answer,” said David Auerbach, an external adjunct faculty member at Montana State University’s College of Nursing and the lead author of the study, which was published this month in Health Affairs. The trend could be associated with economic factors, he said. Millennials came of age during a period of deep economic uncertainty with the Great Recession, which began in 2007, and the nursing profession generally offers stable earnings and low unemployment.

In addition, researchers have teased out generational characteristics that might make nursing more attractive to Millennials.

“These people are looking for more meaningful work and work that they care about,” Auerbach said.

One thing that hasn’t changed since the 1950s: Nursing is still dominated by women. In 2017, women made up at least 83 percent of registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

For the study, researchers analyzed Census Bureau data on 429,585 registered nurses from 1979 to 2015. The study excluded data on advanced practice nurses.

The study found that the number of new entrants into the field has plateaued in recent years. Still, the millennial generation’s embrace of the nursing profession should nearly compensate for the retirement of baby boomer nurses over the next dozen years and may help avert shortages, according to the researchers.

Many factors will influence whether the supply of nurses is adequate in coming years. The healthcare needs of an aging population is only one of them.

“The growth in Accountable Care Organizations and alternative-payment models is probably the biggest factor,” Auerbach said. For example, as hospitals move away from fee-for-service medicine toward models that pay based on quality and cost-effectiveness, nurses’ roles may shift, and fewer of them may be needed in hospital settings as inpatient care declines.


A battle for nursing students


Community colleges and four-year colleges across America are duking it out for market share of what is expected to be an increasingly lucrative nursing-school business as nurses play bigger roles in healthcare care.

The Wall Street Journal noted: “Leaders at community colleges, which now train nurses to the associate-degree level, argue they can help fill a hole in the nursing labor market at a low price. Administrators at four-year colleges counter that community colleges aren’t equipped to teach upper-level nursing courses and say there aren’t enough qualified faculty to go around.”

The four-year colleges are understandably worried about the competition from institutions that can charge lower tuitions.

The WSJ reported: “Bachelor’s degrees in nursing from community colleges would consist of the same number of credits as those at a four-year university, but they would likely appeal most to students who want to attend part time because they are already working in the field.”

“The debate comes amid long-term predictions of a shortage in nurses, as the U.S. population ages. Montana State University nursing economist Peter Buerhaus estimates a shortage of about 130,000 nurses nationwide by 2025, not as acute as once feared but still a significant staffing challenge.”

10 recommendations for nursing’s future


The Institute of Medicine has released 10 recommendations for the future of nursing. They are, as summarized by Becker’s Hospital Review:

1. “Build common ground around scope of practice and other issues in policy and practice.”

2. “Continue pathways toward increasing the percentage of nurses with a baccalaureate degree.”

3. “Create and fund transition-to-practice residency programs. ”

4. “Promote nurses’ pursuit of doctoral degrees.

5. “Promote nurses’ inter-professional and lifelong learning. ”

6. “Make diversity in the nursing workforce a priority.”

7. “Expand efforts and opportunities for interprofessional collaboration and leadership development for nurses.”

8. “Promote the involvement of nurses in the redesign of care delivery and payment systems.”

9. “Communicate with a wider and more diverse audience to gain broad support for campaign objectives.”

10. “Improve workforce data collection.”


A plug for more investments in nursing


A new study of Magnet-designated hospitals, accredited  for nursing excellence, shows that they receive higher ratings from patients than other hospitals. This could, of course, help Magnet hospitals financially.

The study, in Health Services Research, compared 212 Magnet hospitals with 212 similar non-Magnet hospitals, using data from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey.

“Patients in Magnet hospitals gave their hospitals higher overall ratings, were more likely to recommend their hospital, and reported more positive care experiences with nurse communication,” the researchers reported. Better patient-care experiences, they said, “may positively enhance reimbursement for hospitals.”

Research shows that patient experience  is closely linked to  the care receive from nurses because they provide the most direct  care, lead author Amy Witkoski-Stimpfel, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor at the New York University College of Nursing, noted about the study.

FierceHealthcare said  that a recent separate study found that mortality rates in acute-care Magnet hospitals  were  20 percent less than in non-Magnet hospitals. The study largely credited better process of care in Magnet hospitals that had made substantial new investments in nursing.








Training nurses in informatics


Herewith a look  at training for the mating of bedside nursing and healthcare informatics. 

Of course, expanding health-information technology is a goal of the Affordable Care Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Lack of conformance,  albeit conformance achieved in clearly described stages, can result in serious penalties from the federal government.

Challenges include incentivizing healthcare employees to bridge gaps in their present software network to provide better care  and  trainig more healthcare workers as intermediaries in exchanging records,  whatever the delivery system.







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