What nursing will be like in 50 years

Stories - Theme Nurse FutureIt’s fun to speculate on the future – so what will change and what will stay the same about nursing? Here are some trends that might change from the way they are today:

1. The Nursing Shortage will be gone. Year after year for the last ten years, enrollments at nursing schools have risen. Nurses in cities are already feeling the pressure of a saturation of nurses. Nursing is one of the most sought-after professions out there – so if you’re not a nurse yet, get it while it’s hot. If you’re already a nurse, further your education to remain competitive – or find a nice job to settle into. You might have to stay a while.

2. More Skills, More Technology. The set of skills nurses need to know and master grow constantly. Nurses 50+ years ago weren’t even allowed to check blood pressures! ICU and Advanced Practice nurses of today would have been qualified to be doctors back then – and nurse’s aides didn’t exist. Throw technology into the mix, and nurses must deal with more and more complex healthcare every year.

3. BSNs Will Take Over. As skills increase, schooling increases. More and more hospitals favor nurses with BSNs. New Nurse Practitioners may have to get doctorate degrees soon. So what will happen to LPNs and ADN degrees? Will they exist in 50 years?

4. Better Coordination. Technology will solve many problems – and in healthcare, communication and coordination is a big one. Healthcare still feels like going to your town’s DMV – lots of waiting, paperwork, and a disjointed experience.

Maybe in the future, a patient will be able to get their CT or bloodwork results as soon as they are available – and get an explanation in real time! Maybe patients will actually have a way to communicate with their doctor without 2-3 middlemen (or women) in between.

5. More Male Nurses. 50 years ago, many nursing schools refused to enroll men in nursing programs (this actually was finally declared unconstitutional in 1981). The percentage of male nurses has tripled since 1970 and the trend will keep going. Men make up about 1 in 10 nurses right now – expect that to triple again if the trend continues.

6. Patients Expectations Will Change. We’ll have a whole new breed of patients in 50 years. As the patient population becomes more used to technology, they’ll continue to expect fast communication and more transparency. Think about it – a generation of patients growing up with Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest on their smartphones – it’s going to be different! Better or worse? Who knows?

7. Nurse to Patient Ratios Stay The Same. Do you know why nurse-to-patient ratios suck? It’s all about money – not because of a nursing shortage. Even as more nurses flood in, facilities who are short on cash (or want a nice profit every year) will continue to shortchange their nursing staff. It’s sad, but it’s hard to see this changing.

What do you think? These are the musings of one nurse – limited to one perspective. Are these predictions on target? Do you have your own? Let us know on Facebook or in the comments below!

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