How Has the Education of Nurses Changed to Serve the Modern Healthcare System?

How Has the Education of Nurses Changed to Serve the Modern Healthcare System?

18/03/2023 Off By Kena Pervis

For decades, nurses have been advocating for patients, as well as delivering compassionate, professional, and inclusive care. However, as the nursing practice has evolved, the educational provision for new nurses has also had to transform. The first nursing hospital was established in the United States in 1872. This formalized the process of recruiting and training nurses to work as medical professionals. Since this time, hundreds of new schools have been launched, and thousands more courses have been developed to teach the multiple nursing disciplines that now exist.

A move from hospital training to a university education

As advances in medical practice offered the opportunity to improve patient care, the United States needed to change how nurses were educated. It was the Philadelphia General Hospital School of Nursing that first suggested a degree-level education for nurses, and by 1960, there were nearly 200 nursing programs that awarded students with Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees. However, many educators and medical professionals believed a hospital-based program was superior, as trainee nurses gained hands-on experience in a medical facility. This led to the launch of Associate Degree programs that blended the two forms of education.

Understanding healthcare technology

From telehealth to digital patient records and virtual reality therapies, technology is becoming part of life on the average ward. To keep up with these innovations and help with their adoption, even in the most remote areas of the nation, additional components are taught in nursing degree programs. As part of the online DNP program at Baylor University, students are shown the importance of nursing technology in advanced practice roles. They have the chance to specialize in one of several different clinical fields and are prepared for leadership roles at the highest levels of nursing. Students are taught how to use smart beds, mobile monitoring devices, and more, so they are comfortable using these devices once they start work on a ward.


Preparation for leadership

Many years ago, nurses were considered assistants who helped doctors get the job done. In the twenty-first century, things have moved on, and they now share leadership and patient care responsibilities with their colleagues. With advanced degrees, nurses are taught the skills to manage a department. They also gain business acumen and learn more about dealing with the finances of a busy ward. Medical facilities are ready to invest in leadership training to increase the skills of nursing supervisors and charge nurses. By having more experienced nurses in key managerial and administrative positions, the nursing team enjoys higher levels of satisfaction, and the unit runs more smoothly.

Providing an anti-bias education

Nurses are subject to cultural and social forces in the same way as anyone else. They also play an increasingly important role in helping their patients access care. To meet this responsibility, education providers have developed cultural competency units for new and existing nurses. This equips them for work in public health and community outreach programs that serve rural populations, racial minorities, and other groups which have traditionally lacked sufficient medical care.

Assuming more responsibilities

The Affordable Care Act of 2010 went a long way toward tackling health inequity by making more people eligible for Medicaid and subsidizing health insurance. As a result, many more health professionals were needed in senior roles to diagnose and treat patients independently. Nursing education was expanded vastly to cope, and it began to offer training in areas of care and leadership that had previously not been available. A focus on preventative care and an increase in screenings meant nurses needed additional training in these fields to ensure they were ready for their new responsibilities. Furthermore, nurses were taught more about educating patients so people understood how to manage their condition at home and take their medication correctly. This helped cut readmissions and waiting times for a healthcare system managing far higher numbers of patients.

The emergence of multiple career opportunities

As far back as 1972, when the Nurse Training Act of 1964 was amended, it was clear to the US government that nursing education could be expanded. The amendment ring-fenced money for new programs that expanded the number of roles available to nurses and developed nurse practitioner courses. Since this time, multiple careers have been established in the field of nursing, all of which are attainable for registered nurses who are prepared to take additional qualifications and gain extra experience in a new field. Nurses can become legal advisors or specialize in orthopedics, informatics, and forensics. Most of these roles are accessed through certifications, while more senior positions require a master’s or a doctorate.

Nurses are trained to work autonomously

The success of the US healthcare system has resulted in patients living longer and a population that continues to grow. In recent years, a shortfall in physicians has led to changes in the level of autonomy granted to nurse practitioners. Although each state has its own licensure laws, many have chosen to give NPs full practice rights. This means they can evaluate a patient, diagnose the problem, and then manage the appropriate treatments. They can also order tests and prescribe medications as they see fit. This has led to vast numbers of new nursing practice programs that train working professionals to manage these additional tasks. Nurse practitioner programs also provide guidance on how nurses can open and manage their own clinics and employ other staff.

The changing role of nurses in the US healthcare system

Nursing practice has changed in the last ten years alone, but in the last century, it has altered radically. The workforce is now more diverse and educated than at any other time. This progression bodes well for patient care but means that universities must continue adapting to meet the changing needs of healthcare facilities.